Mother Nature is unpredictable, and whenever a disaster strikes, critical public infrastructure is at risk. Public learning establishments, libraries, recreational areas, local government buildings, water and power utilities that host administrative departments in townships and states will have their normal activities disrupted.
Every year, an average of 15 disasters occur in various locations in the US. The total cost of these calamities just last year was approximately $91 billion. Whether it is a natural disaster or emergency challenges from incidents like terrorism, emergency preparedness is critical. It helps in mitigating the risk of such disasters that, unfortunately, are not covered by insurance policies.
Although previous disasters like Hurricane Harvey caused immense disruptions and damage, very few public entities and businesses have adopted sufficiently detailed disaster recovery, and mitigation plans to help alleviate anticipated losses.
Steps to Ensure Emergency Preparedness
Here are the actionable steps that you can undertake to ensure prompt response and mitigation of emergency scenarios.
1. Create an emergency preparedness team.
Constituting a team of emergency responders once a disaster has already begun may be too late to implement any quick fixes or apply prevention details. A public institution of any level should establish groups of well-trained personnel to execute disaster preparedness plans and respond to emergencies.
The team should oversee the implementation of policies and standard procedures that should inform the model of communication between the staff and the allocation of responsibilities that each member should serve. The preparedness team should also advise and coordinate the evacuation efforts and sourcing of survival kit and supplies that are necessary during an emergency event.
2. Develop a disaster plan.
Having a plan in place to respond to an emergency event ensures rescue efforts are conducted and recovery is realized on time. Plans should detail the extent of flexibility there is in acquiring needed assistance, materials, equipment and supplies. One of the proven ways to safeguard against unforeseeable damages of public entities is proper insurance coverage. Consider the loss that tremors can have on bridges and public roads. Cyber criminals could also unleash attacks against your network or website. As a solution, the appropriate insurance policy can better protect public utilities from financial loss that could hinder the recovery.
Depending on the location of your entity, developing a comprehensive list of disasters prevalent in your area is recommended. Each of these should carry a level of risk based on the factual data. This primarily offers valuable insights when creating a logical emergency preparedness plan.
The plan should address how critical files and data can be recovered if they get damaged or lost in the process. Cloud-based data storage could be adopted as a strategy to back up information that will come in handy during rebuilding and recovery efforts.
3. Train your staff.
How employees respond to an emergency scenario determines their overall safety. A workplace should have a safety checklist that is known to all staff. The relevant departments should teach the standard practices on hazardous risks, technical instructions on how to respond to an emergency event, and precautions to observe to ensure the safety of employees and citizens. Being part of a risk-mitigation strategy, the training should be performed and reviewed occasionally to keep abreast of changing emergency risks.
4. Practice, practice, practice!
Training for an emergency is not enough to guarantee the safety of residents and reduce damages on public entities. Frequent drills are recommended to ensure all the individuals exposed to disaster risks are prepared at all times. Regular practice acts as a way to test the level of emergency preparedness among employees and the effectiveness of emergency mitigation and response strategies.
Every county has an Emergency Management Coordinator and many times, an entire department, dedicated to education, pre-planning and conducting exercises in preparation for these large unexpected events. Be sure to utilize this valuable resource that may be able to assist you in pre-planning as well as during an emergency event.
5. Always monitor for threats.
Thanks to modern technology, public entity risk managers have advanced tools on their hands. They can accurately identify and predict the magnitude and time of anticipated disasters. With real-time data and information, emergency response teams can make informed decisions on the appropriate steps in case of an emergency.
You can also rely on organizations tasked with disseminating current weather patterns based on satellite imagery, drones, or spatial analysis from GIS. Furthermore, social media can be reliable, offering real-time emergency updates and warnings.
With these tips, you can forestall losses from an unforeseeable future disaster and minimize damages or injuries in your public institution.