Emergency response and recovery

I am constantly intrigued by the regularity and severity of critical events. Over the last two years, in Australia alone, we have seen numerous major events including bushfires, floods cyclones, a pandemic and heatwaves. At a local level there have been many more events that have impacted communities and businesses including building fires, workplace accidents, protests, social issues and health events. Each of these has the potential to impact you, your employees, stakeholders, customers and ultimately your business.

So, when it comes to emergency response and recovery, how you respond and how you plan to recover can be a game-changer. 

We have previously discussed, in our series of articles, that your Emergency Management Plan needs to be based on the risks identified via your business’s risk assessment process. This is such a crucial piece of work because unidentified risks will not receive the attention they deserve in your emergency management arrangements.

There are many ways to manage risk, usually incorporating numerous layers of protection but when each of those layers of protection fail, an uncontrolled event occurs, affecting your business. In most circumstances this is known as an emergency situation which requires an emergency response. The best emergency response is the one that is planned for.

Emergency response planning is the development of a set of written procedures for dealing with emergencies, designed specifically to minimise the impact of the event and facilitate recovery from that event. At an instinctive level these procedures address matters such as:

  • How to alert staff and visitors of the emergency
  • How to evacuate, including escape routes and assembly locations
  • How to account for employees and visitors
  • How to notify and liaise with emergency service
  • How to provision initial welfare arrangements
  • and what early notifications are required, including statutory notifications

One of the keys to developing good emergency response plans is to consult with the emergency services early in the process. There are benefits for all in the consultation process. The emergency services gain an understanding of your business operations and processes along with the likely emergency scenarios and your capability to initially respond to them. Using this information, the emergency services can plan their response. In return, you gain an understanding of how the emergency services plan to respond, the equipment they will respond with, the timeframe in which they will respond and their expectations of you when they arrive.

The sooner the emergency services can get to work, the sooner your emergency event will be controlled. The importance of exercising your plan cannot be overstated, the engagement with the local responders is one important step and you should practise your plans and review them annually to be successful.

A valuable and simultaneous process to be undertaken whilst developing your emergency response plan is to develop your recovery plan.

A recovery plan will help you to commence your recovery efforts earlier and more smoothly when an emergency event impacts your business. The purpose of the recovery plan is to reduce your recovery time and minimise losses.

Recovery plans can include a vast array of critical information relevant to the recovery of your business including information on how to resume critical business activities and the time frame in which you can realistically expect to resume usual business operations. It can also include:

  • Strategies to recover your business activities in the quickest possible time
  • A description of key resources, equipment and staff required to recover your operations
  • Your recovery time objectives
  • And a checklist you can use following an emergency event, when it is safe to return to your premises

Recovering from any setback is a challenge for all of us. Thinking and planning how you would go about your recovery process based on a likely emergency scenario could make a big difference to your business.

Nuffield Group has invested in developing its capability in Emergency and Crisis Management to support customers and organisations build safety and resilience into their business.

Nuffield Group provides consultancy and advisory services and also has an online platform, https://www.gntx.com.au for the exchange of non-competitive information and tools allowing businesses to share, download and modify frameworks and documents for their own use.

Find out more about GNTX here: https://www.nuffieldgroup.com/gntx/ or give us a call 1300 308 257 or mobile 0404 852 062.