Creating an effective, detailed crisis plan is crucial for generating the desired response to a critical event to protect people and assets. However, even the best crisis plan requires updates to match organizational and situational changes. Here are four ways you can evaluate your crisis plan to make sure your organization is ready for anything:
1. Brainstorm what crises could occur and envision their potential outcomes.
A crisis plan established in 2008 was likely designed to face crises people envisioned 10 years ago. Organizations grow and change, which alters the type and scale of crises they might face. Gather department heads, industry experts, and other thought leaders to consider exactly what crises your organization might face and what potential outcomes, both positive and negative, could occur. For example, technology has changed, and hacking is a bigger problem than it was even a few years ago. Every organization needs to be prepared for that. Once you’ve evaluated potential crises, it’s time to move on to messaging, hardware, and personnel education.
2. Evaluate messaging.
Even if your emergency communication system is in perfect working order, people will not spring into action to mitigate the crisis or get to safety if they don’t understand the messages they’re getting. Here are a few ways to evaluate emergency messaging:
- Use words everyone understands. When providing emergency information to the general population, don’t use jargon or unnecessarily difficult words. Just get the point across. Depending on the situation, a child may need to understand the emergency instructions.
- Update terminology. This is especially important for large companies and plants. People in different departments may have varying terms for products, locations, and processes. For example, an emergency message telling people a chemical leak may have occurred will not be helpful if the location has multiple names.
- Be clear about whether or not it’s a drill. Create separate messaging for a real crisis situation and for a drill. Make sure operators know the difference. Implement safety measures so that an operator is less likely to send out the wrong message.
- Regularly send out clearly signified test alerts to make sure people understand how they are supposed to respond.
3. Maintain your emergency communication system.
Emergency communication systems come in all shapes and sizes. A site might have hundreds of sirens and a public address system. An office might utilize email blasts and text message alerts. A township could depend on radio alerts and telephone call-outs. Whatever your emergency communication system includes, it needs to be regularly tested to ensure it still does what it’s designed to do.
- Schedule regular tests to ensure that all messages go out and that the people receiving them understand.
- Inspect hardware for defects like broken wires, rust, dysfunctional buttons, etc.
- Hire your emergency communication system provider or another expert to perform a maintenance check.
- Ensure your system is protected against hackers.
- If better technology is invented, think about implenting it.
4. Inform relevant personnel of crisis plan changes.
Updating your crisis plan makes the biggest impact when everyone stays updated. Be sure to educate relevant personnel when your organization makes changes to its plan.
- Teach operators how to use any new equipment.
- Distribute copies of the crisis plan.
- Be available for questions and feedback from workers and community members.
- Schedule regular drills to test your crisis plan.
If you would like to evaluate the effectiveness of your emergency communication system or want to ask about new technology or routine maintance, please contact CentrAlert today.