Blog – Disaster Preparedness

Creating a Disaster Preparedness Plan – Implementation (Part III)

We recently discussed the Planning aspects of a Disaster Preparedness Plan for an organization, which addressed topics such as risks assessments, mitigation and completing a business impact analysis. The next installation of the “Creating a Disaster Preparedness Plan” series covers Implementation. The Implementation phase is critical, as its effectiveness determines how well an organization responds to and recovers from a disaster.

*This blog post is the third of a four part series on creating a disaster preparedness plan. Be sure to stay tuned for the next articles in the series.

Resource Management

The resource management tenant of a disaster plan is imperative to identifying the organization’s needs in regards to the disaster preparedness program, the business continuity operations and the communications strategy. Resource management begins with a high-level assessment of the needs that align with the company’s disaster program objectives and performance goals.

Internal resources that a company may list include staff members with specialized skills, facilities or workspaces that provide shelter, emergency response systems, communications systems, and medical equipment, supplies and funds. External resources to consider include public emergency services, contractors and vendors. Contractors and vendors may consist of insurance agents, information technology experts and property restoration services.

The proper logistics must also be in place to ensure that the resources are easily identifiable in the event of a disaster. When compiling resource management information, note the internal and external resources available, their location, operating procedures and the respective contact person. In addition, list the names of employees who are authorized to contract services and place orders.

Emergency Response Plan

The organization’s emergency response plan outlines how to care for its assets based on the company’s risk assessment and performance goals. This plan describes how to:

  • Ensure the safety of the people in the facility using protective actions.
  • Appropriately respond to the incident.
  • Prepare and protect the facility.

Protective actions should include evacuation plans, shelter options and lockdown plans. Use incident stabilization plans to outline what to do in the event of a warning and list the responsibilities of the organization’s owners and managers.

A property conservation plan advises employees of the steps to prepare a building for a forecasted event, such as flooding or a winter storm. The plan also details how to salvage property after a disaster to prevent future damage.

Crisis Communications Plan

A Crisis Communication Plan outlines how the organization communicates with the affected audiences such as employees, family members, the media, customers and other stakeholders. Immediately after an incident occurs, it’s imperative to ensure the prompt, correct and confident relaying of information to the respective audiences.

An organization may outline the types of questions that a company spokesperson can expect to receive from different people, such as suppliers or management personnel. It may also use pre-scripted messages in the form of templates to help ensure the consistency of messaging and the appropriate release of information.

Incident Management System

An Incident Management System organizes the resources and activities that take place during a disaster so they operate using a common organizational structure. If a company has an organized emergency response team, it may work with public emergency services to help stabilize the incident, support communications efforts and promote business continuity in a dedicated emergency operations center. FEMA provides an effective Incident Command System tool called the National Incident Management System.

Business Continuity Plan

A Business Continuity Plan outlines the steps an organization needs to take to overcome a disaster. Using the business impact analysis, the company identifies recovery strategies and defines the resources and actions needed to resume operations. Part of the continuity plan should include manual workarounds for automated processes like receiving customer orders or collecting data.

Employee Assistance and Support

Employees are an organization’s most important asset. A Disaster Preparedness Plan should outline how the company plans to communicate with its staff and provide support before, during and after an incident. Support can come in the form of giving employees and their families access to mental health providers, helping them access benefits, opening a family assistance center or directing employees to a center managed and operated by disaster relief services.

Information Technology Plan

An organization’s electronic data, which may be vital to business continuity, could be vulnerable in the event of disaster. An emergency disaster plan should include procedures that mitigate such a loss, like regular data backups to an off-site location, hardware and software recovery strategies, security updates, password protocols and data recovery plans.

Employee Training

A disaster plan is only as effective as the employees’ awareness and preparedness. A training plan identifies the necessary disaster preparedness instructions for the employees. In addition, the plan highlights the specialized training that different teams should receive. For example, the business continuity plan, crisis communications strategy and emergency response teams. The plan should list drills and exercises that the organization can use to prepare its staff, as well as a set of standards to evaluate the effectiveness of the disaster preparedness plan. The ability of employees to follow through with their respective responsibilities should also be benchmarked regularly.

After implementing a disaster preparedness plan, an organization should continue to test and improve the procedures in place through a series of tests and exercises, which we’ll discuss in our next post.

View the rest of the articles in the series here:

Imperative First Steps (Part I)

Planning (Part II)

Testing & Improving (Part IV)

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