AbleToTrain by Willing & Able

How to manage an emergency?

Stabilizing an emergency may entail a variety of actions, such as firefighting, medical treatment, rescue, containing a hazardous chemical spill, or dealing with a threat or act of violence. When you dial 9-1-1, you expect professionals to arrive at your location.

You may choose to do more to prepare for these incidents, depending on the response time and capabilities of public emergency services as well as the hazards and resources within your facility. Regulations may require you to act prior to the arrival of emergency services.

Even if you only call for help and evacuate, you should still prepare an emergency plan that includes prompt notification of emergency services, protective actions for life safety, and employee accounting.

Creating an emergency plan

Creating an emergency plan begins with an understanding of what might occur. Examine your risk assessment. Consider your program’s performance objectives and how much you want to invest in planning above and beyond what is required by regulations.

Determine the resources available for incident stabilization. Consider both internal and external resources, such as public emergency services and contractors. Fire departments, which may also provide rescue, hazardous materials, and emergency medical services, are examples of public emergency services. If your local fire department does not provide these services, they may be provided by another department, agency, or even a private contractor. Contact local law enforcement to coordinate security-related threat planning.

Make a list of the resources that are available. Identify whether external resources have the necessary information to handle an emergency. If not, determine what information is required and make sure to include it in your plan.

Prepare emergency plans for potential hazards and threats. Examine the list of dangers at the bottom of the page. Use the resources at the bottom of this page to make procedures for each risk and danger.

Notifications, warnings, and communications

To ensure the safety of employees and others in the building, plans should define the most appropriate protective action for each hazard. Decide how you will notify building occupants to take protective measures.

Create protocols and procedures for alerting first responders, such as public safety, trained employees, and management. Figure out how you’ll talk to management and employees during and after an emergency.

Building owners’ and facility managers’ roles and responsibilities

Assign personnel to the task of controlling access to the emergency scene and keeping people away from dangerous areas. Others should be familiar with the locations and functions of building utility, life safety, and protection system controls.

Ventilation, electrical, water, and sanitary systems; emergency power supplies; detection, alarm, communication, and warning systems; fire suppression systems; pollution control and containment systems; and security and surveillance systems are all examples of these systems. If there are public emergency services on-site, people should be put in charge of running or keeping an eye on them.

Plans and information for the site and its facilities

The public emergency services are unfamiliar with your facility and its hazards. As a result, it is critical to document information about your facility. This information is critical in order for emergency responders to safely stabilize any incident that may occur. Building system documentation may also be useful when a utility system fails, such as when a water pipe bursts and no one knows how to turn off the water.

Compile a site plan as well as floor plans for each building. The layout of access roads, parking areas, buildings on the property, building entrances, emergency equipment locations, and controls for building utility and protection systems should all be shown on the plans. All operating instructions for all systems and equipment should be available to emergency responders.

Distribute a copy of the plan to the public emergency services that would respond to your facility, as well as others in charge of building management and security. Keep the plan with other emergency planning documents, such as chemical Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), required by Hazard Communication or “right to know” regulations.

Exercise and training

Personnel should be trained to understand detection, alarm, communication, warning, and protection systems. Review plans with employees to ensure they understand their roles and can carry out their responsibilities. Conduct evacuation, sheltering, shelter-in-place, and lockdown drills so that employees recognize the sound used to warn them and know what to do. Help run exercises to put the plan into action, get people used to it, and find any holes or problems in the plan.