When it comes to emergency preparedness, having an emergency action plan (EAP) is essential. An EAP is a written document that outlines the procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency. It should include evacuation procedures, escape routes and floor plans, informing and alerting authorities, alerting staff and visitors to an emergency, accounting for people after implementing an EAP, notifying parents, guardians or closest family members, identifying a media contact person, and training of new staff. Floor plans or workplace maps that clearly show various escape routes and areas of refuge should be included in the EAP, published in several high-traffic locations, and given to local first responders.
In some cases, severe weather events can be predicted hours before arrival, providing valuable time to protect a facility. A plan must be established and resources must be available or available quickly to prepare an installation. The plan should also include a process of assessing damage, salvaging, protecting undamaged property, and cleaning up after an incident. These actions to minimize additional damage and business interruption are examples of property conservation.
Prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery are the five steps of emergency management. Response actions may include activating the emergency operations center, evacuating threatened populations, opening shelters and providing mass care, emergency rescue and medical care, firefighting, and urban search and rescue. Well-developed emergency plans and adequate employee training (so that employees understand their roles and responsibilities within the plan) will result in fewer employee injuries and less structural damage to facilities during emergencies. An EAP must address emergencies that the employer can reasonably expect in the workplace.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides more reasons why an emergency action plan is important from a purely business perspective. It refers to measures that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency occurring, or reduce the harmful effects of inevitable emergencies. Public emergency services include fire departments that can also provide rescue services, hazardous materials and emergency medical services. If you decide to do nothing more than call for help and evacuate, you should prepare an emergency plan that includes immediate notification of emergency services, protective measures for the safety of life, and accounting for all employees.
The first step in developing an emergency response plan is to perform a risk assessment to identify potential emergency scenarios. While most of us move quickly away from the hazardous environments created during emergencies, a dedicated and well-trained group of professional medical and emergency response personnel is tasked with containing and mitigating these incidents, rescuing people at risk, and providing medical assistance to the injured.