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How to develop an Emergency Response Plan

Your plan should include the following basic components:
Executive Summary
The executive summary gives management a brief overview of the purpose of the plan, the facility's emergency management policy, authorities and responsibilities of key personnel, the types of emergencies that could occur, and where response operations will be managed.
Emergency Management Elements
This section of the plan briefly describes the facility's approach to the core elements of emergency management, which are:

·      Life safety

·      Communications

·      Property protection

·      Recovery and restoration

·      Administration and logistics

·      Community outreach

Emergency Response Procedures
The procedures spell out how the facility will respond to emergencies. Whenever possible, develop them as a series of checklists that can be quickly accessed by key personnel.

Determine what actions would be necessary to:

·      Assess the situation

·      If you are a business then you must develop a plan to protect employees, customers, visitors, equipment, vital records and other assets, particularly during the first three days

·      Get back up and running.

Specific procedures might be needed for any number of situations such as bomb threats or tornadoes, and for such functions as:

·      Warning the public

·      Communicating with personnel and community responders

·      Conducting an evacuation and accounting for all persons in the facility

·      Managing response activities

·      Activating and operating an emergency operations center

·      Fighting fires

·      Shutting down operations

·      Protecting vital records

·      Restoring operations

Support Documents
Documents that could be needed in an emergency include:
Emergency call lists -- lists (wallet size if possible) of all persons on and off site who would be involved in responding to an emergency, their responsibilities and their 24-hour telephone numbers.
Building and site maps that indicate:

·      Utility shutoffs

·      Water hydrants

·      Water main valves

·      Water lines

·      Gas main valves

·      Gas lines

·      Electrical cutoffs

·      Electrical substations

·      Storm drains

·      Sewer lines

·      Location of each building (include name of building, street name and number)

·      Floor plans

·      Alarm and enunciators

·      Fire extinguishers

·      Fire suppression systems

·      Exits

·      Stairways

·      Designated escape routes

·      Restricted areas

·      Hazardous materials (including cleaning supplies and chemicals)

·      High-value items

Resource lists -- lists of major resources (equipment, supplies, services) that could be needed in an emergency; mutual aid agreements with other companies and government agencies.

In an emergency, all personnel should know basic Incident Command Systems (ICS):

·      What is my role?

·      Where should I go?

·      Who do I report to?

Some facilities are required to develop:

·      Emergency escape procedures and routes

·      Procedures for employees who perform or shut down critical operations before an evacuation

·      Procedures to account for all employees, visitors and contractors after an evacuation is completed

·      Rescue and medical duties for assigned employees

·      Procedures for reporting emergencies

·      Names of persons or departments to be contacted for information regarding the plan

The Development Process
The following is guidance for developing the plan.
  1. Identify Challenges and Prioritize Activities

Determine specific goals and milestones. Make a list of tasks to be performed, by whom and when. Determine how you will address the problem areas and resource shortfalls that were identified in the vulnerability analysis.

  1. Write the Plan

Assign each member of the planning group a section to write. Determine the most appropriate format for each section.

Establish an aggressive timeline with specific goals. Provide enough time for completion of work, but not so much as to allow assignments to linger. Establish a schedule for:

·      First draft

·      Review

·      Second draft

·      Tabletop exercise

·      Final draft

·      Printing

·      Distribution

  1. Establish a Training Schedule

Have one person or department responsible for developing a training schedule for your facility.

  1. Coordinate with Outside Organizations

Meet periodically with local government agencies and community organizations. Inform appropriate government agencies that you are creating an emergency management plan.

While their official approval may not be required, they will likely have valuable insights and information to offer.

Determine State and local requirements for reporting emergencies, and incorporate them into your procedures.

Determine protocols for turning control of a response over to outside agencies. Some details that may need to be worked out are:

·      Which gate or entrance will responding units use?

·      Where and to whom will they report?

·      How will they be identified?

·      How will facility personnel communicate with outside responders?

·      Who will be in charge of response activities?

Determine what kind of identification authorities will require to allow your key personnel into your facility during an emergency.

Determine the needs of disabled persons and non-English-speaking personnel. For example, a blind employee could be assigned a partner in case an evacuation is necessary. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disabled person as anyone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself or working.

Your emergency planning priorities may be influenced by government regulation. To remain in compliance you may be required to address specific emergency management functions that might otherwise be a lower priority activity for that given year.

  1. Review, Conduct Training and Revise

Distribute the first draft to group members for review. Revise as needed.

For a second review, conduct a tabletop exercise with management and personnel who have a key emergency management responsibility. In a conference room setting, describe an emergency scenario and have participants discuss their responsibilities and how they would react to the situation. Based on this discussion, identify areas of confusion and overlap, and modify the plan accordingly.

  1. Seek Final Approval

Seek final approval from senior key officials. This may be a City Manager, Selectboard or other officials that would be involved in responding to an emergency situation.

  1. Distribute the Plan

Place the final plan in three-ring binders and number all copies and pages. Each individual who receives a copy should be required to sign for it and be responsible for posting subsequent changes.

Distribute the final plan to:

·      Chief executive and senior managers and other key officials

·      Key members of the company's emergency response organization

·      Community emergency response agencies (appropriate sections)

Have key personnel keep a copy of the plan in their homes. Inform employees about the plan and training schedule.

Consolidate emergency plans for better coordination. Stand-alone plans, such as a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) plan, fire protection plan or safety and health plan, should be incorporated into one comprehensive plan.

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