During the last couple years, it has become evident that companies need contingency plans for health crisis situations like COVID-19, as well as natural disasters, security breaches and other business disruptions. This is essential, considering that 40 to 60 percent of small businesses do not recover from these events, FEMA reports.
However, beyond just creating a plan, business leaders also must have an emergency response team (ERT) who is trained to execute this plan should an unforeseen circumstance arise. The function of an ERT is to manage the losses incurred by an emergency, so that operations can still continue. Below are four tactical tips to ensure that your own company’s ERT is ready for strategic, decisive action in the face of a potential crisis.
Provide a Realistic Training Experience.
Since an emergency response team must be equipped for all kinds of eventualities, you’ll want a training curriculum that exposes your team members to whatever scenarios or aftermath repercussions they might encounter. To replicate those high-stake situations, collaborate with a company like TacMed Solutions. Their rental program can help facilitate actual emergency conditions for various training specifications.
This program uses both human and K-9 simulators to immerse your ERT in a realistic traumatic injury experience so they know how to intervene with safety hazards or bodily harm. You can choose from numerous simulators and curriculum options to customize the program for your business needs. In addition, you’ll also have access to exclusive discounts on TacMed medical equipment to further enhance the training classes.
Implement a Risk Assessment Process.
Along with these training protocols, an emergency response team should be able to assess the potential risks to both human personnel and business property in the event of a crisis. Preparing for risks in advance makes it easier to proactively manage the threat and contain the damage, instead of just reacting in the heat of a moment.
This assessment will also help each team member identify how a risk could affect their specific area of responsibility in the organization, so they can initiate the right precautionary measures. For example, let’s assume the contingency plan is for a natural disaster. When performing a risk assessment, the ERT should think about the following:
- Evacuate occupants from the building.
- Tend to anyone who has sustained injuries.
- Reinforce the office’s structural integrity.
- Protect business materials, equipment and inventory.
- Ensure adequate heating/cooling and power generators.
- Store electronic data in a secure location.
- Designate a safe, stocked area to shelter in place.
Have a Backup Communication Strategy.
If you lose power in an emergency and normal communication technologies are unavailable, ERT members will need an alternative plan to stay in touch with each other and alert outside health services or first responders of the situation. Start by compiling a list of essential phone numbers and other relevant contact information for everyone on the ERT, as well as the management personnel, OSHA officers and external agencies. Make sure the list is offline, so it can still be accessed if technology cuts out.
Next, determine a central location to meet if the team is separated for any reason and cannot re-establish a communication signal. A physical meeting place will help to orient everyone and keep tabs if someone is missing from the group.
Be Sure Each Member Knows their Role.
Emergencies are inevitably chaotic, but you don’t want to exacerbate the chaos even more with ERT members stepping on each other’s toes due to unclear responsibilities. There is no room for ambiguity when a disaster strikes, so to maximize efficiency and manage the incident as much as possible, define each person’s role on the team ahead of time. This will ensure that everyone knows what to do and remains in their own lane.
People are naturally more effective when they have a clear mission, so assign all ERT members a job to take ownership of before, during and after the crisis. For instance, one person should be in charge of the evacuation route, making sure occupants can leave the premises safely and helping anyone who needs extra assistance. Another person should be relocating business valuables and checking structural reinforcements. Meanwhile, someone else should be trying to contact local first responders or recovery agencies.
Is Your Emergency Response Team Ready for a Crisis?
As this COVID-19 pandemic has taught business leaders across the globe, crisis situations are unpredictable and can usher in severe, long-term impacts. While it’s hard to know exactly when these circumstances might occur, you can—and must—plan ahead for the inevitable. Equip your business’s emergency response team to jump into action in a way that’s safe, effective and helps the organization stay on its feet.