Companies need an enterprise-wide, universally accessible emergency response planning system capable of adapting to every site, regulatory requirement, and plan type. Incorporating a definitive company emergency management system across an enterprise allows for a streamlined and familiar response process. Whether plans are mandated by corporate policy or regulatory agencies, an effectively exercised and accessible emergency response plan can minimize impacts of an emergency on employees, the environment, and infrastructure. The benefits of web-based emergency management systems are:
1. Efficiency: Effective response plans require cyclical maintenance. As a result of changing personnel, fluctuating external response contacts, and revolving equipment availability and inventory levels, maintaining up-to-date and actionable response plans can be administratively time consuming. Emergency management software should eliminate the need for duplicate updates. The most advanced web-based software programs utilize a database, allowing for specific repetitive information to be duplicated in the various necessary plan types across an entire enterprise. By minimizing administratively tasking duties, plan changes are more likely to be transferred into the system, optimizing the accuracy of the plans.
2. Accessibility of plans: In the event of an emergency, updated paper plans are typically not available from all company locations. Additionally, accessing plans housed on a company intranet may be dubious if an incident renders company servers inaccessible. Although the intranet approach has improved overall plan accessibility, a number of significant difficulties remain. With an intranet approach, plan maintenance, version control, and consistency across multiple plans remain challenging and time consuming.
Web-based planning system software offers every option of instant accessibility: viewed via the Internet from any location, downloaded, or printed. Increasing accessibility options while improving efficiency, functionality, and effectiveness can bolster an entire emergency management program.
3. Instantaneous updates: With web-based technology and an Internet connection, revised information is immediately available to all approved stakeholders. Both paper-based plans and those housed on a company intranet are often out of date with multiple versions in various locations, potentially misinforming the response team. Microsoft Word or PDF documents, often the format used in response plans, are cumbersome to revise for various plan types and locations. Web based software eliminates” version confusion” and allows responders to apply the most up-to-date and tested processes to a response.
4. Superior functionality: Web-based plans can provide hyperlinks, forms libraries, simplified interfaces, and other tools designed to improve functionality for plan users. Simplifying documentation during an incident enables prompt response progress, improved regulatory compliance, and a more accurate account of the response. Easy to follow response plans allow responders to carry out specified industry and company procedures in accordance with proven best practices responses.
5. Multi-purpose data: Typically, response plans share common data with a variety of additional plan types including business continuity, pre-fire plans, hurricane plans, and others. Web-based, database driven plans utilize one database to manage this information, effectively leveraging plan content and revision efforts to all plans and locations that utilize that data.
If best practices are implemented, and training and exercises confirm effective response processes and procedures are in place, response plans can be an effective tool for responders. However utilizing web-based, database software allows registered users to swiftly and accurately identify confirmed response contacts, response procedures, and available resources, expediting the response and minimizing impacts.
Resource management is a key practice in the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Web-based software streamlines the resource data incorporated into a response plan allowing NIMS components to be utilized more effectively. NIMS resource management includes:
- Resource identification: Integrated data allows for all resources to be quantified.
- Procurement: Through automated contact verification systems, the process of procuring resources is simplified. Accurate contacts, contact numbers, and resource lead times have already been confirmed.
- Mobilization: Plan transportation and logistics needs easily identified based on response priorities
- Track and report: Web-base response software’s links and forms database allows for easy resource reporting and documentation. Real-time incident management systems can ensure efficient use, coordination, and movement of equipment.
- Recover and demobilize: Accurate data allocation ensures timely demobilization of equipment, including decontamination, disposal, repair, and restocking activities, as required.
- Reimburse: Web-based software contains documentation measures that assisting in tracking costs. This allows for accurate allocations of incident expenses, including contractors, equipment, transportation services, and other costs.
- Inventory and replenishments: Resource data contained within the web-based software can be utilized to inventory response requirements or site equipment. This feature streamlines the ability to assess the availability of on-site equipment and supplies and determine external resource levels.