Effective Emergency Plans include accurate directions for
quickly assessing damage, allocating resources, minimizing congestion and
supporting emergency workers. Emergency Coordinators ensure that emergency plans are effective, current and available.
Emergency Coordinators have many duties.
Competent coordinators ensure that
- Employees are regularly trained
- Contingency plans are regularly updated
- Employee capabilities are regularly tested
- Emergency drills closely depict real-life
- The role of emergency operating centers are regularly re-defined
- All aspects of emergency
preparedness are regularly re-examined
The key word is regular. Once or twice is not
enough. The world changes too fast for that. Good emergency planning requires
that Emergency Coordinators ensure that:
- Contingency plans are organized
- Disaster plans are simple and available
- Contingency plans are accurate but and simple
- Alternate decision makers are accurately identified
- Emergency plans include planning the aftermath and recovery
1. Good Emergency Plans are Organized
Well documented disaster planning benefits many people. In a crisis, people
save valuable time seeking critical information. Ensure your contingency plans provide essential information for each
person involved in a crisis.
Avoid the common error of throwing together a folder of jumbled information copied from many sources.
The time needed to organize such a mess - is valuable time wasted during a real
emergency. And if the plans are kept on a computer network or in only one
location ... you can imagine the consequences.
- Organize information in a
logical flow of what to do in a crisis
- Keep information
that is used only for planning in a separate binder
- Assemble essential information for the right
people in the right sequence
The size of your organization and the number of risks determine
how many emergency documents are needed. A
small organization in one location may need a
single document that contains all emergency information. A large company in
multiple locations needs an executive document, a company plan, sub-plans and many
An executive summary should be a concise guide that informs
upper management what to do immediately during a potential disaster. Executive summaries
can spell out who is responsible for what and should include
removable copies of key information pages that show current telephone numbers and
alternate contact information that may needed in a disaster.
An emergency plan should provide key policies about
generic disasters that executives can use to plan long-term recovery. A good emergency plan
can create clear pictures of how the
organization can respond to predictable disasters.
2. Good Emergency Plans are Simple & Available
Have paper copies and keep them up to at. Electronic emergency plans can become a
in a real disaster.
- What knowledge is required to access the
- Will computers be accessible in a power and/or network failure?
- Will the applications that access and view the plans be
- Will current versions of the documents be
- Will emergency staff know how to find what they
need in documents?
- Have key people rehearsed the plans? How many times?
Store paper copies of
current emergency plans on-site and off-site,
in readily accessible locations.
3. Good Emergency Plans are accurate yet not too detailed
Plans based on
accurate and current information can be of enormous benefit in a disaster but
many crisis management plans only look good on paper.
Although a generic plan may be a useful tool, have it carefully
scrutinized by all stakeholders and test it regularly to ensure that it
- Document critical functions in
- Identify and plan for the real “worst case” scenarios
- Overly detailed plans can cause delays
during a disaster
A real disaster will rarely follow a disaster
and any plan will likely have serious gaps in a real emergency. Therefore, focus initially on "worst
case" scenarios. For example, consider what you can do if police / fire department
/ ambulance services are unavailable and TV crews show up in force.
4. Good Emergency Plans identify Alternates
Disaster recovery plans can quickly become obsolete, with changes
in personnel, plant, vendors and clients. Your crisis recovery plan should
continually identify and check contact information for essential staff, and provide
alternate means for reaching them should any of the primary contacts fail.
- Be prepared for a media invasion
- Expect networks to be jammed or unavailable
- List alternate telephone numbers, and those of
- In a real crisis, many people will try to contact executives and managers
5. Good Emergency Plans plan for the Aftermath
Plan for the human consequences of stress. Emergency workers (including you!) and victims may
later show inappropriate emotions, dissociation or
psychosomatic symptoms. Such people often:
- avoid finishing projects
- cannot specify timed goals
- distract themselves with obsessions
- express strong and inappropriate emotions
- offer endless justifications for their behavior
- may be depressed - life does not make sense
"Wait and see" is not planning - it is
reacting and crisis situations
can be extremely stressful. Consider providing systemic coaching for emergency workers -
before they need it. See Survival Coaching.
Imagine yourself managing a disaster -
using an emergency plan with serious errors and deficiencies! Imagine yourself trying to cope
with a crisis with inadequate resources and missing important people. Imagine trying to explain your actions
to the media DURING a crisis and to a court AFTER that crisis.
Check that each contingency plan
avoids these common errors and minimizes the risk to emergency
workers - and your risk of not only losing your job but facing charges of criminal negligence.
Online Emergency Coaching &
Martyn Carruthers was a paramedic (Royal Navy) and served on nuclear
submarines during the Cold War. He was a health physics and
safety officer at nuclear power stations, and Radiation Protection
Officer for the Canadian government, where he worked with emergency measures organizations.
He founded Soulwork Systemic Coaching,
a complete system of coaching, counseling and training.