Emergency Response Team for Business


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Are we talking Business Continuity or Business Emergency Response?

Organizing an emergency response team for a business is not the same as building a business continuation or business continuity plan…but they do complement one another.

The objective of a Business Continuity Plan is to preserve the mission critical elements of a business to assure that it can operate under a variety of conditions following a disruption.

Don’t be lulled into thinking that a contunity plan focuses on computers and customer transaction data. A good continuity plan is far more comprehensive than that! One place to start in assessing your business’ need for a continuity plan is to join the American Red Cross, Ready Rating™ program on line at: www.redcross.org/prepare/location/workplace. It’s free and includes a 125 question, self-paced analysis.

The primary objective of a Business Emergency Response Team is to save the lives of employees and managers first and preserve the business properties second.

Some Challenges May Be Outside The Business’ Control

The greatest challenges that a business faces in a major catastrophe are the various circumstances that may be outside its controls.

  1. The location of the facilities, the surrounding businesses, city’s infrastructure, etc. are one aspect of the problem. Many businesses don’t take potential emergencies or infrastructure risks into consideration when they set up shop.
  2. The natural urge of employees and managers to get home and check on the welfare of family and loved ones is the human side of the equation and it is something that has to be addressed in any plan that is expected to work.
  3. And that leads us to the third problem: the Corporate Emergency Plan.  We have been exposed to a number of them, and have helped design programs for building Business Continuity Plans. The tendency in business is to build these plans by the “bulk” (see photo).  More often than not, this renders them unworkable. It’s much like a battle plan. It looks great on paper, but is usually superseded once the action begins.

    Thick Business Continuity Plan

    Business Continuity Plan — How useful?

Some of the issues that these plans find impossible to address effectively:

— Whether it’s a natural disaster or a major terrorist attack, you can’t predict what the damage is going to be or who will be in a position to respond to the emergency.

— The natural tendency in business is to “appoint” managers to lead Response Teams. Not everyone is physically or mentally equipped to respond effectively in an emergency situation. In many cases, the best leaders in an emergency will not be managers.

— There are legal issues to be considered, often associated with shareholders, financial and reporting requirements, etc. as well as with protecting employee volunteers.

Volunteer status and the Good Samaritan Law

In most states there are laws in place to protect citizens who act in a Good Samaritan capacity. The protection is even greater when people have received CERT, First Aid or other Red Cross training.

Action Item:  As you consider your own business emergency response plan, check to be sure how the Good Samaritan Law works in your state.

Forming a Business Emergency Response Team

The real criteria for forming a Business Emergency Response Team are thus volunteer status and training.

We think that a business has an easier task of forming a CERT-trained Emergency Response Team than another group simply because employees are readily available, and their interests in saving the business are aligned with management’s interests.

For small businesses in a multi-tenant building, it may be beneficial to join forces in building a CERT group for the building or a logical section of the building.

Which is more important, Business or Neighborhood preparation?

In all our posts, we look at getting organized and getting training, whether at the workplace or at the neighborhood level.  In many cases, these overlap.  In all cases, more is better.  This is what inspires us to keep working!

Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

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