Definition of Emergency Management
A Emergency Management Program is a combination of operational documents (Emergency Response Plans) used by local site management and trained emergency responders (Emergency Response Teams) to reduce effects of a physical disaster, e.g., fire, tornado, earthquake, active shooter, hazmat release. These plans are locally designed, owned and managed, and focus on the first challenges of a disaster: to protect life safety, physical property and the environment. Company responders often share efforts with fire, police, medical and other professional. Emergency response must be deployable without assistance from corporate resources.
Types of Emergency Response
The types of emergency response needed vary widely depending on the site. Here is a general review of some basic emergency response requirements.
Office Facilities – Office facilities where the company is a tenant require fairly simple plans to control evacuation, shelter-in-place, coordination with property management and municipal responders, medical support coordination, accounting for people, notification of families, initial media contact, etc. Office facilities owned by the company require some additional response elements, e.g., direct coordination with municipal responders, provision of physical security for the building, direct interaction with government officials, etc.
Retail and Restaurant Facilities – These types of facilities require the same level of preparedness as office facilities, but have additional requirements. Retail and restaurant operations may experience an incident that risks large numbers of public citizens (shoppers/diners). Immediate action by a fairly high number of employees, often with limited training is required to prevent injury and trauma to the public.
Warehousing and Distribution Facilities – These types of facilities require the same level of preparedness as office facilities, but have additional requirements. Depending on the contents and location, management of these types of sites may need environmental response plans, traffic disruption plans and stronger community protection plans. Effective response may also make a significant difference in the loss of inventory and the resulting financial effects.
Manufacturing, Mining, Refining Facilities – Again depending on the nature of the site, management may have extensive additional emergency response requirements. In many cases, some of these response requirements are required by regulations and regulatory agencies at the Federal and state level, e.g., OSHA, MSHA, EPA, FDA, DOT, NRE, CERCLA, RCRA, etc. Sites with large quantities of hazardous materials will require responders with Hazmat response training (HAZWOPER and similar) while those with radioactive materials will need DOE training. While most companies operating these types of facilities have extensive emergency response capabilities, events over the years have demonstrated that companies do not always perform as well as society expects, and they may pay a steep price for being unprepared.
Process for Attaining and Maintaining Effective Emergency Management
Effective Emergency Management Programs require different levels of sophistication based on the type of facility as explained above. Training expectations also vary depending on the situation. The difficulty of developing effective plans ranges from straightforward to complex. Below are some examples of typical Emergency Response Plan contents.
- Core Emergency Response Plan Requirement
- Emergency Communications: Ability to quickly notify those at risk of the situation and provide directions to reduce risks to life safety.
- Medical and security response: Integration with professional responders to coordinate medical treatment and physical security.
- Additional requirements for Retail and Restaurant
- Simplified instructions and online training for part-time or teenage employees.
- Emergency Communications: Ability to quickly notify large numbers of guests, often with a limited number of staff.
- Additional requirements for Warehousing and Distribution
- Enhanced firefighting ability to safely reduce physical loss, specifically actions to take in advance of professional responders.
- Specific shut down guidelines for equipment that may increase risk or damage.
- Additional requirements for Manufacturing
- Extensive firefighting and search and rescue planning and training.
- Provisions for alerting community of dangers and protecting them.
- Environmental response and protection planning and training.
- Extensive process safety and shutdown guidance.