Disasters, whether natural or man made, can result in a serious disruption to company operations. They typically involve widespread human, material, economic, or environmental impacts, which can exceed response capabilities for company facilities and offices. Planned response actions that incorporate qualified and trained internal and external responders are key to ensuring that both short-term and longer-term needs are addressed.
Although specific vulnerabilities to disasters vary, no company or facility is immune to the effects of a disaster. There are four main types of disasters:
- Natural disasters: These include, but are not limited to, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions that have immediate impacts on communities and local companies.
- Environmental emergencies: These include technological or industrial accidents, usually involving hazardous materials, and occur where these materials are produced, used or transported. Large forest fires are generally included in this definition because they tend to be caused by humans.
- Facility emergencies: These involve an authoritarian collapse and/or attacks on an installation. Complex emergencies include conflict situations, terrorism, and/or war.
- Pandemic emergencies: These involve a sudden onset of a contagious disease that affects public health, but can escalate to disrupt services and business operations. Effects may include economic and social costs.
Disaster Response Staging Area
A disaster scenario typically requires external resources beyond the scope of a company’s capabilities. In a major response, establishing a staging area (or areas) may be required to support an increase in activity and ongoing response operations.
In selecting a suitable staging area, the following criteria should be considered:
- Accessibility to impacted areas
- Location safety
- Proximity to secure parking, airports, docks, pier, or boat launches
- Accessibility to large trucks and trailers that may be used to transfer equipment
- Accessibility to basic needs
- Accessibility to necessary utilities
In addition, the staging area should:
- Be in a large open area in order to provide potential equipment storage and increased responder population
- Not interfere with equipment loading and offloading operations
- Have a dock/pier on site for deploying equipment if emergency is near shore or offshore
- Have moorage available for vessels to aid the loading/offloading of personnel, as necessary
Disaster Plan Considerations
Other key considerations to be included in a disaster management plan include:
- Communication Plan: Should identify telephone numbers and radio frequencies used by responders. This may also involve activation of multiple types of communications equipment and coordination among multiple responding agencies and contractors.
- Public Affairs Plan: Contains guidelines for dealing with the media during an emergency. The Incident Commander will play a key role in providing the initial public assessment and taking the first steps to provide situational understanding.
- Site Security Measures: The potential for increased public attention created towards a disaster site may require additional security measures to be implemented. Several measures should be planned in advance to prepare security personnel for possible security events that may occur.
- Waste Management Procedures: Disposal plans should be in place to manage increased waste from the initial disaster, as well as from the increased activity surrounding the disaster. Waste management needs may be overlooked in the emergency phase of a response, which could result in delays and interruption of cleanup operations.
- Demobilization Plan: These guidelines provide an organized set of procedures to help facilitate and expedite a return to normal operating conditions, and help to minimize costs by standing down response resources in a timely manner.
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