So you’ve done your due diligence as a facility manager and have prepared a meticulous emergency preparedness plan.
You’ve done a thorough risk assessment, defined critical functions, identified and allocated necessary resources, and finally created an emergency action plan.
But with all of the time and effort put into developing an emergency preparedness plan, have you perhaps downplayed the most important piece of this plan?
That’s right. Your staff.
Consider that your emergency plan is only as effective as your staff is prepared. They are the lifeline that executes the plan in times of emergency and disaster.
Without them, the plan falls flat and make the employees, buildings, and community vulnerable and at risk of danger.
Are your staff prepared? Have they undergone a comprehensive staff-training program on emergency preparedness? Do they know who does what and when?
Defining their roles and what is expected of them is essential for the smooth execution of this plan when it is needed the most. Thorough training will help ensure this.
Here are some key features that you may want to include in your training…
Awareness of potential hazards and risks
Depending on the location of the facility and the unique hazards present in that area, consider what is most relevant for your staff to know and remember.
Perhaps a few catastrophic events such as bushfires, tsunamis, explosions, extreme heat, floods, widespread power outages, or workplace violence are the most critical incidents to cover with the training.
Overview of the emergency action plan
It is essential that all employees, supervisors, and managers be trained in the general structure of the emergency plan. This familiarity will help create a greater sense of confidence and competency among the staff and help reduce panic and fright during the actual emergency.
Define their roles
Although general training should be provided for all staff, focused and specific training should be provided to particular individuals to help them in their assigned emergency roles.
For example, preparing in-house supervisors, technicians, and maintenance employees with emergency management skills and techniques to de-escalate the emergency will be different than office managers that may be tasked with evacuating employees to a designated safe place.
Knowing what’s expected of them during an emergency is essential.
Offer specific training
Depending on the role, targeted training could include emergency communication, first aid and CPR, warning signals and alarms, violence management, equipment shutdown, exposure to toxic materials, fire safety, or evacuation plans.
Look carefully at each role and how each person can contribute to the well-being and safety of all.
Test and practice the plan
This cannot be overemphasized.
An emergency plan that is just filed away after it has been completed is useless and serves no one.
To test out the viability and effectiveness of the emergency plan, training programs must include actual role playing and disaster simulations and also be practiced on a regular basis.
This brings the plan to life and ingrains the essential elements within the minds of the employees. Regular testing allows the participants to identify key flaws within the plan and then make the necessary revisions to improve its overall preparedness should an emergency arise.
At the center of every comprehensive emergency plan is people.
Well-trained staff make the difference between a complete failure and collapse during an emergency, and the successful protection of people, facilities, and community.