Every business has unique terminology specific to department responsibilities and operational processes. However, when it comes to safety, preparedness, and emergency response, all employees should be trained in common emergency management terminology. Despite the varying and divergent roles, knowledge of universal emergency management concepts should be communicated in order to eliminate confusion, strengthen engagement, and promote a culture of safety.
EHS managers should not assume that company personnel identify with the context of preparedness and emergency management terminology. With a collective understanding of general emergency management concepts, companies can strengthen preparedness initiatives and lay the foundation for a flexible, effective, efficient, and all-hazards incident management response.
FEMA identifies five mission areas that can serve as a basic understanding of the emergency management terminology and processes. These areas include:
- Prevention: Prevent, avoid, or stop a risk, threat, imminent, or actual act.
- Protection: Protect employees, citizens, residents, visitors and assets against threats and hazards.
- Mitigation: Reduce the loss of life and property by lessening risks, threats, and impacts of a potential scenario.
- Response: Respond efficiently to save lives, protect property, and the environment, and meet basic needs in the aftermath of an incident.
- Recovery: Recover with a focus on the timely restoration, strengthening and revitalization of infrastructure, operations, and affected communities.
Collaborative understanding can often be the bridge to preventing, stabilizing, and recovering from a company or facility emergency situation. The following commonly used emergency management terms should be familiar to employees.
1. Response Planning - The development of plans, policies and procedures to address the physical and/or business consequences of residual risks which are above the level of acceptance to a business, its assets and its stakeholders. Planning should be based upon the results of risk management and within the overall context of enterprise management. For companies with multiple locations, each site’s plans should integrated within the overall enterprise management structure.
2. Incident Command System (ICS) - A standardized management concept designed to enable an integrated response, despite its complexity, response demands, or jurisdictional boundaries. ICS establishes common terminology that allows diverse incident management and support organizations to work together across a wide variety of incident management functions and hazard scenarios.
3. Crisis Management - The coordination of efforts to control a crisis event consistent with strategic goals of an organization. Although generally associated with response, recovery and resumption operations during and following a crisis event, crisis management responsibilities extend to pre-event mitigation, prevention and preparedness, and post event restoration and transition.
4. Incident Management - The management of operations, logistics, planning, finance, administration, safety, and information flow associated with the operational response to the consequences/impacts of a crisis event. Through technology, systems are now available that offer real-time incident management.
5. Incident Response -The tactical reaction to the physical consequences/impacts of a crisis event. Tactical reactions that support the economic viability of a business may include, but not limited to:
- Protecting personnel and property
- Situational assessments
- Situational stabilization
- Response operations
6. Business Continuity - The business specific plans and actions that enable an organization to respond to a crisis event in a manner such that business units, processes, and sub-functions are recovered and resumed according to a predetermined plan. The recovery efforts should be prioritized by critical function to the economic viability of the business.
7.Emergency Response - A response effort by trained emergency personnel from outside theimmediate affected area, or by other designated responders (i.e., mutual aid groups, local fire departments, etc.), to an occurrence which results, or is likely to result, in an uncontrolled release of a hazard or hazardous material, to include any fire, explosion, or serious injury or illness to personnel where there is a potential risk of exposure to blood borne pathogens.
8. Social Responsibility - (ISO 26000) Responsibility for the impacts of decisions and activities on society and the environment. Integrated throughout a company, transparent and ethical behavior should:
- Contribute to sustainable development
- Contribute to the health and the welfare of society
- Account for the expectations of stakeholders
- Comply with laws and consistent with international norms of behavior
10. Initial Responder: The purpose of the initial responder at the operations level is to protect life, property, or the environment from the effects of the release. Ensure all employees are aware of initial responder site-specific actions. It not the responsibility of the initial responder to stop a hazardous release. Employees who may be exposed to hazardous substances, including hazardous waste, are required to be Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) certified before responding to an incident.