The first minutes of an emergency is critical, as well as the actions you take during that time. A proper response can lead to an evacuation or lockdown, which can help save lives and minimize damage to property. A proper emergency response plan should be put in place before any emergency scenario even occurs. This, with the help of first aid officers who have taken first aid training in Perth and other major Australian cities, is necessary in reducing casualties and preventing mass panic, which can cause more harm than the cause of the panic or emergency itself.
What is an Emergency Response Plan?
An emergency response plan is a written set of instructions that outline how workers and other people at the workplace should respond in the event of an emergency. It must include the following points:
- Effective emergency response
- Evacuation procedures
- Emergency service organizations to notify
- Medical treatment and assistance
- Effective communication techniques and coordination between safety wardens
- Emergency procedure testing
- Training workers for implementing emergency procedures
Developing an Emergency Response Plan
To develop an emergency response plan that’s suited to your place of work and the nature of your business, you need to first conduct a risk assessment. This means that you have to identify the potential risks in your area. This step involves identifying the hazards in your area— like fire, natural hazards, and even cyberattacks— and the assets at risk— like people, property, and technology— should a potential scenario occur.
Protective Actions for Life Safety
Protecting life is always the top priority whenever an emergency occurs. Second priority is incident stabilization. Incident stabilization can range from successfully extinguishing fires to containing spills. Protective actions for life safety include the following:
- Evacuation – Check that there are at least two exits from any risk-heavy areas on every floor of your office. Building and fire codes require even more exits for bigger structures. These exits should be properly marked with exit signs, have sufficient lighting, and be completely unobstructed.
- Lockdown – Acts of violence occur without warning. Loud pops and gunfire is highly suspect, and every employee should know how to hide themselves and remain quiet so as to not attract the attention of shooters. People who take refuge in rooms should close, lock, and quickly barricade the doors. They should be taught to hide under desks, corners, and areas away from windows.
- Sheltering – In the event of a dangerous weather-related emergency, a warning signal should be set off, announcing that people move to the strongest part of the structure. This could be basements or rooms that have reinforced masonry construction. It also helps to tune in battery-operated radios to local radio stations to monitor news and the weather conditions.
- Shelter-In-Place – Events that warrant this protective action include explosions, acts of terrorism, and outdoor chemical spills. People should be warned to move away from the windows and to the interior core of the building to seek shelter. Anyone working outside the immediate premises should be warned to enter the building as quickly as possible. Move people to the higher floors when in multi-story buildings. Basements should be avoided, windows and exterior doors should be closed, and the air handling system should be shut down. Keep everyone in place until it is declared safe to evacuate the premises.
Emergency response plans should be regularly reviewed and updated, and everyone in the office should be made aware of every change. Your company’s emergency response plan should include not only your employees but also your clients, contractors, and visitors—practically anyone in the premises. To reinforce the plan and to make sure that everyone knows their responsibilities and the proper response, you should conduct practice drills regularly and have your safety officers undergo refresher first aid and other related training courses every year or so.