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Tips for Merging Response Plan Templates and ICS

Posted on Thu, Sep 10, 2015

Response planning is a multi-faceted entity, composed of critical information, procedural comprehension, and response process awareness. Two contributors to effective preparedness comes from the site-specific information within the plans and a standardized response management process by which procedures are carried out. The two concepts, site-specific and standardization, may appear to contradict each other. However when merged properly, companies can strengthen preparedness initiatives and enable a flexible, effective, efficient, and all-hazards incident management response.

By integrating up-to-date, site-specific response plans, company EHS protocols, and Incident Command System (ICS) components, response operations can be streamlined and coherent without being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries. Utilizing ICS in conjunction with site-specific plans can also consolidate an effective response that includes multiple combinations of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communication methods.

However, when companies implement or utilize a basic template approach without consideration of site-specific details, the result is often an incomplete, ineffective, and non-regulatory compliant plan. In addition, implementing an incident command approach without site-specific information often results in inadequate and prolonged responses.

By utilizing a template as an outline, companies can begin the process of creating response plans. Companies may consider web-based technology to streamline template formats across an enterprise. A generic plan template may not address every regulatory and/or site specification, so it is essential to evaluate site-specific variables and applicable regulatory requirements. If templates are tied to a web-based database, site-specific information can often be cross references with regulatory requirements. As facilities are added or renovated, operations are revised, or employees revolve, each web-based plan can be conveniently accessed and updated for accuracy and compliance.

Below are twelve basic template topics that should be evaluated for site specific applicability and implementation.

  1. Laws and regulating authorities
  2. Hazard identification and risk assessment
  3. Hazard mitigation procedures
  4. Resource management
  5. Response direction, control, and coordination
  6. Notifications and warning systems
  7. Operations and safety procedures
  8. Logistics and facilities infrastructure specifics
  9. Training
  10. Exercises, evaluations, and corrective actions
  11. Crisis communications
  12. Finance and administrative duties

Once site specifications and regulatory requirements are identified, plans should be formatted within a common and unified incident planning organizational structure. The structure is based on a set of essential features that apply to the management of any incident or all-hazards events. Features included in ICS are:

  1. Common terminology - use of similar terms and definitions for resource descriptions, organizational functions, and incident facilities across disciplines
  2. Modular organization - response resources are organized according to their responsibilities. Assets within each functional unit may be expanded or contracted based on the requirements of the event.
  3. Management by objectives - specific, measurable objectives for various incident management functional activities and direct efforts to attain them. Planning should allow for a timely response, documentation of the results, and a way to facilitate corrective actions.
  4. Incident action planning - Incident Action Plans (IAPs) guide response activities, and provide a concise means of capturing and communicating a company’s incident priorities, objectives, strategies, protocol, and tactics in the contexts of both operational and support activities.
  5. Manageable span of control - response organization is structured so that each supervisory level oversees an appropriate number of assets (varies based on size and complexity of the event) so it can maintain effective supervision.
  6. Pre-designated incident facilities - assignment of locations where expected incident-related functions will occur.
  7. Comprehensive resource management - systems in place to describe, maintain, identify, request, and track resources.
  8. Integrated communications - ability to send and receive information within an organization, as well as externally to other disciplines.
  9. Consolidated action plans - a single, formal documentation of incident goals, objectives, and strategies defined by unified incident command.
  10. Establishment and transfer of command - Clearly identify and establish the command function from the beginning of incident operations. If command is transferred during an incident response, a comprehensive briefing should capture essential information for continuing safe and effective operations.
  11. Chain of command and unity of command - Identify clear responsible parties and reporting relationships
  12. Unified command structure - multiple disciplines work through their designated managers to establish common objectives and strategies to prevent conflict or duplication of effort.
  13. Accountability - Develop process and procedures to ensure resource accountability including: check-in/check-out, Incident Action Planning, unity of command, personal responsibility, span of control, and resource tracking.
  14. Dispatch/deployment - Limit overloading response resources by enforcing a “response only when requested or dispatched” process in established resource management systems.
  15. Information and intelligence management - The incident management organization must establish a process for gathering, analyzing, assessing, sharing, and managing incident-related information and intelligence.

Once the initial response plan is completed, plan audits, exercises, expert assistance, and/or consultation services may be required to confirm plan compliance and effectiveness.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Response Plans, Incident Management, ICS, Emergency Response Planning

Why Real-Time Incident Management Systems are Now EXPECTED!

Posted on Thu, Aug 06, 2015

Text messages, Facetime, Skype, live-streaming, and email are just a few of the communications technologies that offer current Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) professionals and responders a unique advantage over their counterparts from years past. Because of the commonality of instantaneous access to communication and information, real-time technology should be incorporated into corporate Incident Management Systems (IMS). From the moment an incident is discovered, the response process of information gathering, assessments, response coordination, and documentation should not be halted by the communication barriers of the past.

The intent of an Incident Management Plan, which should be based on the Incident Command System (ICS), is to define, document, and provide tactical intelligence to those managing and responding to incidents. These plans should guide management, supervisors, employees and contract personnel as to their roles and necessary actions based on the current environment at the incident site. Timely, clear, and concise communication is pivotal. As a result, Incident Management Plans should incorporate:

  • Internal and external communication processes and procedures
  • Accurate contact information, highlighting the preferred method of communication
  • Methodology and protocols for two-way communication with all parties

A two-way information flow breakdown during the chaos of an incident commonly results in a diminished ability to quickly restore the site to “business as usual”. The IMS is the response communication tool that allows users to provide and receive current information enabling those with assigned response roles to carry out swift and appropriate resolutions. Compromised incident response communication often results in jeopardized safety, greater impacts, questionable company reputation, escalated costs, and diminished profits.

Incident Management Systems can be designed to expeditiously facilitate emergency management and coordinate responses through the use of interactive database-driven interfaces and real-time situational displays. Systems with 24/7 web-based access to the incident site information are extremely beneficial to decision makers. With a real-time system in play, emergency managers, on-site responders, as well as approved stakeholders at any location, are more likely to stage an effective and timely response. Providing an instantaneous method of situational awareness provides a means to:

  1. Monitor site response status/scenario
  2. Prioritize the health and safety of staff members and responders based on current information
  3. Aggregate data into a format that enables real-time analysis and decision making
  4. Determine the status and effectiveness of response actions
  5. Modify response strategies, tactics, and objectives based on the information received
  6. Determine the deployment of resources in order to prevent duplication of efforts
  7. Integrate incident response plan contacts and assigned tasks, as necessary
  8. Minimize miscommunications that can delay time sensitive responses
  9. Document stakeholder and agency directives to be used as a reference or learning tool

Despite a real-time communication, best practice processes, and state-of-the-art systems, the incident response will not be successful without a trained response team. Best practices have proven that individuals who demonstrate a clear understanding of their response role and responsibilities in exercised scenarios are better prepared to implement a precise, streamlined, and effective response.

Individual incident management responsibilities vary by role and the site-specific scenario. However, the lack of procedural and incident status communication can lead to the mishandling and mismanagement of a response. Real-time communication can benefit general supervisory responsibilities which may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Initial response actions
  • If the situation demands, limit or restrict access to the incident scene and surrounding area
  • Determine or carry out directives regarding required personal protective equipment
  • Request medical assistance, if necessary
  • Identify representatives from each agency for associated responsibility, including communication links and location
  • Verify any substance released and obtain Safety Data Sheets, as necessary
  • If properly trained, identify and isolate source to minimize product loss and potential harm
  • Maintain records and individual logs, as necessary
  • Coordinate required response actions with Incident Commander and local responders
  • Communicate response actions to assigned specialized team members
  • Document all complaints and suspicious occurrences

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Incident Management, Communication Plan

7 Corporate Social Media Strategies for Incident Management

Posted on Thu, Jul 16, 2015

In today’s expansive world of smartphones and instantaneous social media reporting, incident commanders no longer have the luxury of controlling communication with the public and media. As a result, a company must establish an incident management communication plan that includes a facet for assessing and distributing communication through social media.

Social media communication has advanced from its origins as a picture-sharing medium strictly used by young adults, to a comprehensive, informative, and responsive communication tool. Companies must incorporate these platforms that instantly validate observations, enable shared experiences, and provide valuable information.

Public relations planning that includes a social media element must be developed as part of an overall incident management plan. In order to sustain a positive, productive, and profitable relationship with stakeholders and communities, proactive corporate visibility and timely communications is essential. Established Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and company websites can be used as sources of incident communications. Employees, the press, and communities want to know the details of “what happened”, “who/what was impacted”, “why did the incident occur”, and “what will happen” in the near future.

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The more timely and detailed the information, the less chance the public and media outlets will have room for interpretation. In order to regulate inaccurate perceptions, an incident management communication plan must contain the following elements:

  1. An initial brief, focused, and factual description of the situation: Even if the situation is ongoing, the current facts must be presented barring any information that may cause further harm.
  2. Initial response action details: Identify the “who, what, when, and where”. The “why” is often speculative in the early stages of an incident. Refrain from communicating the “why” until all the facts can be evaluated and confirmed.
  3. Ongoing processes established to minimize and counteract the emergency: Identify what process and procedures will be in place in order to restore the scene to a “business as usual” scenario. This may include, but is not limited to:
    1. ongoing security measures
    2. safety mandates, such as shelter in place or evacuations
    3. supply chain disruptions
    4. employee directives
    5. request for assistance/volunteers
  4. A statement of commitment to return to “business as usual”: Companies must communicate their intent/attempt to return the affected area to its original or improved state. If ‘business as usual” will be delayed or altered, details of those terms must be communicated when logistics and associated details are confirmed.
  5. An expression of empathy to those affected by the incident: If an incident affects employees, stakeholders, and/or the community, a company should make every effort to “be human” and show compassion. However, communicating “acts of compassion” speak louder than words.
  6. Access to subject matter experts to answer media inquiries: Experts that understand the details of the incident and how it relates to operations can often provide specific, factual information. These individuals can often be representatives that explain “why” an incident occurred. If a company does not provide expert analysis, the public and media may seek out alternative sources that may not have all the necessary deductive and accurate information to the specific incident.
  7. Timing for follow up information: Companies should only promise what can be delivered. A companies should refrain from predicting response times. While exercises should give incident commanders a general sense of time frame, each scenario is unique. Companies should provide employees, the press, and the public with incremental times for situational updates. Those times should be hard scheduled but should not interfere with the response. Even if additional factual information is not available, the public information officer (PIO), or the designated representative, should maintain communication.

Social media engagement has become one of the “lessons learned” from the 2013 West, TX fertilizer plant explosion. Frank Patterson, Waco-McLennan County emergency management coordinator, called the incident a “CNN event”. “We didn’t use social media. It ate us up,” said Patterson. Misinformation and rumors surrounding the explosion saturated the Internet.

It is imperative for a PIO or representative to effectively manage and engage in media communication and social media chatter. For larger companies or if operational risks and worst-case scenarios have the potential for a considerable impact, it may be advantageous to establish a communications team that includes a social media monitoring facet. Regardless, companies must be tuned into the vast digital network of social chatter. While the specific incident circumstances will define a response strategy, basic communications processes typically remain consistent. Viral rumors and antagonistic communications can often be inhibited with a timely, factual, and proactive incident management communications campaign.

Tags: Incident Management, Media and Public Relations

Enterprise-Wide Incident Response Planning for Hospital Systems

Posted on Thu, Apr 30, 2015

The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) sets standards for healthcare organizations and issues accreditation to those organizations that meet those standards. Despite the emphasis on standardization among hospital industry practices, there can be a lack of enterprise-wide incident response planning standardization among a company’s multiple facilities.

Hospital systems’ incident response plans, also commonly referred to as emergency operations manuals or disaster plans, establish process and procedures that strengthen capabilities to minimize service disruptions, support local community responses to a variety of scenarios, and promote ongoing financial and organizational well-being. A web-based, enterprise-wide response planning system can unify standard company response processes and procedures, simplify compliance and accreditation efforts, ensure best practices, and provide up-to-date preparedness arrangements for hospital systems.

Hospitals systems, like a variety of other companies, are embracing advanced communications methods and applying web-based technology to response planning. Increasingly available and more reliable technology has allowed multiple industries to transition from archaic binder-based plans to an all-inclusive web-based preparedness program. An enterprise-wide incident response planning system for hospital systems should:

● Support the ability to execute company approved response strategies
● Easily incorporate company growth and facility acquisitions
● Enable site-specific details while not compromising company directives
● Be easily updated with minimal dedicated staff
● Become a shared tool for internal and external responders
● Allow for streamlined compliance audits

While including unique site-specific hazards and response capabilities for each facility, overall response guidelines and visual layout should be standardized to allow for a comprehensive understanding of the parent company’s best practices and proven emergency procedures. Strategic response plan knowledge and familiarity improves the ability of individuals to respond as part of a cohesive system. Standardized incident response plan formats and guidelines should include, but are not limited to:

● Overall plan structure
● Notification procedures
● Response Team organization
● Response Tactics (Initial, intermediate, and long-term)
● Roles and Responsibilities
● Layout and content of Fire Pre plans (if applicable)
● Plot plan key
● Demobilization procedures
● Mandated company and Incident Command System (ICS) forms lists

The purpose of the plan is to ensure effective response procedures dictate appropriate behaviors in the event a crisis situation arises. Whether potential emergency situations occur within the hospital setting or the surrounding communities, effective plans should account for various potential scenarios, ensuring staff readiness and timely responses. Hospital systems’ response plans should reflect potential scenarios that would significantly impact the demand for services or interfere with the ability to provide those services.

Potential operational impacting scenarios can include a sudden and abrupt event or a sustained episode over a longer period of time. Database driven, enterprise-wide planning systems provide hospitals with a tool to standardize best practices while incorporating relevant site-specific details. Hospital response scenarios may include process and procedures related to the following:

● Severe weather
● Natural disaster (ex. earthquake, tsunami)
● Utility failure
● Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place
● Explosion
● Chemical Release
● Radiation exposures
● Active shooter
● Hostage or barricade incident
● Pandemic or local infectious disease episode
● Information technology failure or hacking
● Mass casualty
● Missing person(s)
● Staff shortage
● Fire

Within each of these scenarios, response processes and procedures must be established, trained for, and exercised. However, common duplicate information is often relevant to a variety of scenarios among multiple plan types. Web-based, database driven systems utilize one database to manage information. This function allows users to effectively duplicate common plan content and revision efforts to all plans and locations that utilize the similar data. This feature minimizes administrative time and ultimately costs associated for managing response plans.

Until web-based preparedness programs became available, plan formats often varied from one facility to another, making it difficult to manage training, compliance efforts, and consistency of basic response procedures. Incorporating a definitive enterprise-wide incident response planning system across a hospital system can maximize efforts, allowing for a streamlined and familiar response process.

Web based response planning - TRP CORP

Tags: Incident Action Plan, Incident Management, Disaster Recovery

Incident Management and Business Continuity Go Hand-In-Hand

Posted on Thu, Mar 19, 2015

Some of the greatest challenges in incident management stem from the unpredictability of an ongoing situation and concurrent communication shortfalls. The ability to establish a quick and effective response through a real-time, transparent management process improves response time, reduces impacts, and provides the best opportunity for the implementation of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

An incident or emergency scenario that activates an Incident Management Plan can also spur the activation of a BCP. Both incident commanders and BCP team leaders need timely, yet accurate information to assess necessary response requirements. When incidental impacts and response scenarios are effectively communicated, the outcome can greatly support both incident management efforts and continuity of operations initiatives.

A BCP that is guided by a functional incident management process can provide the information to enact necessary continuity processes.  In order to be effective to business continuity leaders, Incident Management Systems need to include a means to provide the following:

  • Initial Response Statistics - Employees should be able to obtain essential information in real-time.  This allows responders to provide swift and appropriate resolutions to the current or escalating scenario(s). Having the ability to establish an intuitive, customizable system is a key component of incident management.
  • Reporting - To improve responses to an ongoing process, incident commanders must be able to quantify the response based on accurately reported information. In incident management, this means the process of providing and receiving current, real-time information and customizing an appropriate response. Necessary information that can assist in an effective response includes:
    • Actual response times
    • Initial response actions and resolutions
    • Incident command position roles and responsibilities
    • Incident planning /follow up assignments
    • Action status (Assigned, Delayed, Overdue, Complete)
    • Sustained response actions
    • Demobilization
    • Review proceedings (Examine overall performances and processes.)
  • Feedback - After an incident has been resolved, the company should solicit honest feedback from responders, regulators, and employees. This may highlight areas for improvement in your incident management process.

handshaketrp.jpg

When multiple plans are concurrently enacted, communication failures, rumors, and speculation can escalate, affecting the functionality and effectiveness of the response. Real-time system mechanisms with automated dynamic workflows can greatly improve incident response, continuity opportunities, and corporate viability. Incident management information, considering existing incident response capabilities, response measures, and history can assist business continuity leaders in determining the best path towards continuity or restoration. This specific information includes, but is not limited to the following criteria:

  • Incident Timing - If an interrupting incident occurs during high-output timeframes, continuity priorities and process implementation should be amplified in order to limit operational and financial impacts.
  • Likelihood Level - Based on accurate and timely incident impact information, the business continuity team can decipher how likely the incident will affect each critical business unit, suppliers’ availability, or set deliverables.
  • Duration and recovery time - Determine if the incident duration and demobilization efforts will impact and/or impair critical operational processes. Based on this information, processes and alternate facilities may be necessary to account for maximum allowable downtimes. This will allow for recovery time of specific critical processes under existing capabilities and, if possible, potentially altered conditions.
  • Staffing minimums - Identify available staffing levels and whether the number meet minimum requirements to meet typical daily productivity goals, as well as recovery time objectives.
  • Operational Impacts -Determine how the incident affects and will affect operations Functions that may be affected include, but are not limited to:
    • Lost sales and income
    • Negative cash flow resulting from delayed sales or income
    • Increased expenses due to overtime, outsourcing or other operations that increase costs
    • Regulatory fines and legal implications
    • Contractual penalties or loss of contractual bonuses
    • Customer dissatisfaction or withdrawal
    • Delay of business plan execution or strategic initiative

Interoperable communication and coordination among incident commanders and business continuity leaders should be exercised for a swift recovery. If an incident has the potential to impact two or more business processes, it is critical that an effective BCP be enacted. An incident can become a multi-tiered business continuity event that extends beyond the facility borders, affecting personnel, multiple critical business processes, vendors or suppliers, and customers.

Web based response planning - TRP CORP

Tags: Business Continuity, Incident Management

Requirements for Effective Incident Management

Posted on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

Some of the greatest challenges in emergency management comes with the unpredictability of an ongoing situation and the shortfalls of systems, processes, and individuals.  Efforts to prepare for, manage, or mitigate risks are often unexecuted or shelved by constrained resources, profit margins, politics, or alternative goals. In order to minimize response challenges, potential situations have to be identified and preparedness initiatives must be prioritized, implemented, and exercised. When a solid preparedness foundation in place, incident management and response activities can be optimized, minimizing incident duration and associated costs.

Streamlined incident management systems and processes need to be established and tested by assigned individuals who, in an emergency scenario, will be relied upon to carry out assigned response tasks. Systems and processes should include a means to provide the following:

  • Initial response information, data, and statistics - Assigned employees should be able to intuitively obtain essential information to determine optimal responses.  This allows responders to provide swift and appropriate resolutions as established by designated response planning initiatives. The infrastructure of an intuitive, streamlined, and customizable system enables companies to implement site-specific processes while retaining company-wide response planning consistency. (A web-based, enterprise-wide response planning system can remove the uncertainties and challenges associated with managing multiple response plans, streamline the update process, and simplify plan reviews, ensuring a consistent path toward compliance and effective emergency response.)

  • Accurate reporting - To improve targeted response processes in an ongoing scenario, the incident commander or designated person-in-charge, needs the ability to measure current conditions and quantify appropriate processes. The process of providing and receiving current information and communicating necessary focused tasks is the essence of incident management.

incident_management_systems

The ability to maintain transparent communication and a seamless exchange of information during the incident management process improves safety, reduces response costs, and improves continuity of operations. Real-time Incident Management Systems can be designed to expeditiously facilitate emergency management and coordinate responses through the use of interactive database-driven interfaces and real-time situational displays. Utilizing an instantaneous method of situational awareness provides a means to:

  • Determine the deployment of resources in order to prevent duplication of efforts

  • Integrate incident response plan contacts and assigned tasks

  • Aggregate data into a format that enables real-time analysis and decision making to ensure the most efficient and effective emergency response

  • Minimize miscommunications that can delay time sensitive responses

  • Document stakeholder and agency directives to be used as a reference or learning tool.

Even when state-of-the-art systems and best practice processes are in place, incident management will not be successful without a trained response team. Best practices have proven that individuals who demonstrate a clear understanding of their response role and responsibilities are better prepared to implement a precise, streamlined, and effective response.

The Incident Command System (ICS) command staff or incident management team is made up of management level personnel who are self-directed in support of the response effort. It is critical that the ICS assigned individuals are trained in their responsibilities and have demonstrated understanding through realistic exercises. In additional to the incident commander, the ICS supervisory personnel may include but is not limited to Safety Officer, Information Officer, Risk Management, Legal, Security, and Liaison Officer. (FEMA’s ICS Resource Center has full list of positions and checklists that may be applicable to your facilities.)

Individual responsibilities vary by role and the site-specific scenario. However, general supervisory responsibilities may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Initial response actions

  • Prioritize the health and safety of staff members through evacuation or shelter-in-place

  • If the situation demands, limit or restrict access to the incident scene and surrounding area

  • Determine or carry out directives regarding required personal protective equipment

  • Request medical assistance, if necessary

  • Identify representatives from each agency for associated responsibility, including communication links and location

  • Verify any substance released and obtain Safety Data Sheets, as necessary

  • If properly trained, identify and isolate source to minimize product loss and potential harm

  • Maintain records and individual logs, as necessary

  • Coordinate required response actions with Incident Commander and local responders

  • Communicate response actions to assigned specialized team members

  • Document all complaints and suspicious occurrences

For a free paper on the "Top 3 Benefits of a Web-based Response Planning System", click the image below:

Web based response planning - TRP CORP

Tags: Incident Management

Global Response Planning Extends Beyond Operational Hazards

Posted on Thu, Oct 09, 2014

Current world events, such as the Ebola outbreak, ISIS threats, and Super Typhoon Vongfong continue to alter the focus of emergency management. With each pandemic, security crisis, natural disaster, or emergency incident, a renewed emphasis on specific preparedness initiatives and associated countermeasures evolves. Despite site-specific operation hazards, a well-developed response plan should examine all risks and vulnerability factors in order to provide employees with the knowledge, procedures, and resources necessary to respond appropriately to any situation.

When companies expand globally, identifying, evaluating, mitigating, and planning for continually evolving location-specific risks and vulnerabilities is challenging. Those with the responsibility of global preparedness and planning must address site-specific regulatory compliance measures, inherent risks (including operational and location-specific), technological and physical security needs, and each operational response plan component. Cultural disparities, infrastructure challenges, or security provocations may leave sites vulnerable to particular events and heighten the urgency of preparedness initiatives and planning efforts.

Preparedness, operational sustainability, and employee safety requires a streamlined, coordinated, and exercised response plan. Response plans must be developed to account for each potential emergency and non-emergency scenario that could impact or cause damage to a particular facility or its operations.  Aside from innate operational hazards, both physical site security and electronic security must be considered in preparedness measures. (Note: A security breach is just as likely to come in the form of a computer hacker or virus as it is from an actual intrusion, uprising, or physical attack.)

While emergency scenarios may affect the safety and health of employees, operations, and/or the facility infrastructure, non-emergency situations can arise that potentially impact company reputation and operational longevity.  A poorly managed situation can negatively affect a company’s reputation, business interests, and relationship with key regulators and partners.

Below are some crisis management situations that could affect business continuity for companies with multinational facilities. Business continuity and crisis management plans should be developed for each of these scenarios that could likely cause significant damage to the business.

Environmental Stewardship: Disparity in international, country, state, county and corporate environmental standards.  Environmental regulations may vary regarding:

  • Facility or site requirements
  • Transportation
  • Hazardous spills
  • Equipment safety
  • Fire fighting methods
  • Gas releases

Natural Disasters: Each geographic location has specific historical and potential natural threats.

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes/typhoons
  • Sand/wind storms
  • Tornados
  • Flooding
  • Tsunami

Employee issues: While every facility must prepared for potential employee issues, global companies must pay specific attention to:

  • Cultural differences
  • Language barriers
  • Labor relations challenges
  • Workplace discrimination or harassment
  • Disgruntled workers
  • Health and safety disparagements

Marketing: Global markets and unethical business practices can create non-emergency scenarios resulting in the need for crisis management:

  • Price gouging
  • Supply availability
  • Recalls
  • Deceptive business practices

Security Breach: A security breach can affect multiple aspects of a company, from business continuity to the physical safety of employees.

  • Computer hacking
  • Catastrophic IT failure
  • Facility security measures
  • Civil unrest
  • Personnel/employee security

Corporate Governance:  Corporate changes can initiate unrest, disrupt operations, and company reputation:

  • Mergers
  • Organizational restructuring
  • Downsizing
  • Facility closings
  • Management successions/promotions
  • Financial reporting integrity

Industry/Sector Issues: As industry specific equipment, regulatory advancements, and technologies evolve, preparedness should continually adapt to include safety processes, continuity procedures and best practices.

  • Supply disruptions
  • Punitive regulations

Illegal Activity: Faults in humanity may be intensified by location specific conditions, supply and demand, and/or greed. Preparedness measures should include business continuity and crisis management procedure for the following circumstances:

  • Extortion
  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Malfeasance
  • Criminal Investigation

Political/Social issues: As companies strive to be profitable, political and social issues can interfere with daily operations. Situations that may affect productivity include, but are not limited to:

  • Human rights
  • Terrorism
  • War
  • Political or social unrest
  • Economic disparity
  • Discrimination
 

Have locations across the globe? Download TRP Corp's free guide,"Response Planning for Large Organizations with Multi-Facility Operations".

Multiple Facility Response Planning Company Preparedness Guide DOWNLOAD

Tags: Social Unrest, Business Continuity, Resiliency, Crisis Management, Incident Management, Terrorism Threat Management, Workplace Safety

Ten Reasons for Companies to Invest in Incident Management Programs

Posted on Thu, Sep 25, 2014

Incident Management programs shouldn’t be created for IF an incident happens...but for WHEN an incident happens.

Regulatory compliance mandates, a history of incidents, or an awareness of potential crises typically trigger companies to fund preparedness initiatives. At a minimum, preparedness endeavors and response capabilities should be audited, tested, and updated on an annual basis. Budgeting efforts should be aligned with initiatives in an effort to improve incident management and preparedness capabilities.  Below are ten “best practice” reasons why companies should prioritize funding to advance preparedness initiatives and associated response programs:

#10. Streamline and standardize improved response methods:  A consistent company-wide emergency response management system can deliver site-specific details and management endorsed response processes.  Standardization allows employees and responders to conceptualize their roles and responsibilities across an enterprise, creating a common understanding of intended actions. Streamlining response methods can assist responders in assessing, prioritizing, and responding to incidents.

#9. Optimize drills and training: Employee training, emergency response drills, and applicable exercises identify deficiencies in emergency response planning programs. Incorporating appropriate response training and testing response plans with detailed scenarios will improve response capabilities and coordination, as well as reduce response times.

#8 Improve regulatory compliance: Costly non-compliance fines result from the lack of implemented, thorough, and compliant programs. By systematically aligning response plans and their components with corresponding regulations, companies can identify and amend plan deficiencies that may result in fines and potential government mandated shutdowns.

#7. Simplify and automate response plans: Maintaining response plan can be an administratively taxing endeavor. Continual administrative duties associated with personnel contact information, assignments, training records, exercises, and continual plan updates may be inadequate to sustain an optimal program. Maximizing efficiency through advancements in technology can minimize time associated with maintaining incident response plans.

#6. Improve asset utilization: Companies must utilize employees, responders, equipment, and budgets effectively in order to minimize the effects of a crisis or disaster. Realigning current tangible assets (equipment and/or personnel), mitigating current inefficiencies, and/or budgeting for additional response training or improved equipment will improve the overall effectiveness of an emergency management program.

#5. Demonstrate a commitment to safety:  Companies should proactively affirm the safety of employees and surrounding communities, and protection of the environment, by establishing proven countermeasures to potential threats and associated risks. Prioritizing emergency preparedness initiatives demonstrates a company’s commitment.

#4. Improve conditions:  Harmful conditions pose a risk to occupants, the environment, infrastructures, and/or the surrounding communities. By eliminating or mitigating potentially adverse conditions, unsafe activities, or ineffective responses, companies can reduce the potential for and effect of emergency situations. The risk assessment process can be used to identify potential threats or harmful conditions that can lead to incidents.

#3. Reduce Incidents:  By identifying potential threats and risks, mitigation and preventative measures can be taken to curtail the likelihood of an incident from occurring or reduce its impacts. Mitigation measures may include a variety of tactics including, but not limited to training for employees, updating safety processes and procedures, or securing or purchasing updated equipment.

#2. Reduce downtime:  Operational downtime and production loss reduces revenues. By optimizing and implementing the most effective and functional incident management program possible, incidents can be promptly managed and rapidly demobilized, thereby reducing response-related costs and downtime.  The repercussions from an incident can include detrimental relationships with customers, the surrounding community, and stakeholders.

#1. Cost savings:  Proactive compliance efforts, safety initiatives, training and exercises, and response and resiliency planning are typically less expensive than regulatory fines, sustained response efforts, and overall repercussions resulting from an incident.

Implementing a technologically advanced enterprise-wide emergency management system offers opportunities to increase the effectiveness of planning and preparedness efforts. Gathering lessons learned from various site managers, performing site regulatory gap analyses, and implementing new proven concepts will ensure the best possible functionality and processes within a program.

For a free Response Procedures Flowchart, click here or the image below:

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Tags: Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans, Incident Management, Training and Exercises, Emergency Management Program

Renovating the Framework of Emergency Management and Incident Response

Posted on Tue, Aug 26, 2014

The modernization of communication technologies has trickled down to the frameworks of emergency management. On July 29, 2014, the 'White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day” brought together the disaster response community and innovative entrepreneurs from across the country in the hopes of integrating technological advances with preparedness and disaster response efforts.

As the connectivity of the world increases, EHS programs and emergency managers are embracing collaborative and innovative preparedness and response initiatives. However, in order to germinate or sustain an ongoing culture of preparedness, companies must prioritize funding to incorporate new and relevant systems, training, and/or equipment. Unless mandated by regulatory authorities, many companies delay best practice and technological initiatives until an incident propels response planning to the forefront.

According to the Disaster Recovery Planning Benchmark Survey: 2014 Annual Report, “more than 60% of those who took the survey do not have a fully documented disaster recovery (DR) plan and another 40% admitted that the DR plan they currently have did not prove very useful when it was called on to respond to their worst disaster recovery event or scenario.

As the “Y” or the “Millennial” generation” (those born between 1980’s and 2000) continues to enter the workforce, emerging technologies will become more ingrained into society and the workplace. These educated and tech savvy individuals accustomed to fast-paced technological advancements consider technology as an essential aspect in their lives. Based on current trends, upcoming generations will be acclimated to instantaneous communication and data extraction from any location. Text, social media, and web-based technologies will be expected as commonplace emergency management frameworks, rather than the traditional means that most companies still utilize today. In order to integrate societal norms and stay relevant with upcoming generations of employees, emergency management and disaster response framework must be aligned with currently available utilized tools.

Statistics suggest that every dollar invested in disaster preparedness yields savings of $4–$11 in disaster response, relief, and recovery.” The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Just as computers replaced typewriters to expand productivity, web-based response systems are replacing one-dimensional paper-based plans. Web-based response systems offer a greater streamlined functionality, renovated efficiency, and varied accessibility when compared with traditional paper-based plans.  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.

In order for new functionalities to be introduced to the workplace, emergency managers often are required to justify the initial investment. A cost-benefit analysis of a renovated emergency management program can highlight the potential cost savings of an effective program. Any prevention, mitigation, or plan maintenance costs should be compared with the financial impact of situational recovery processes and the overall costs of an incident. These costs may include, but are not limited to:

  • Human life
  • Short term or long term business interruption
  • Lawsuit(s)
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Equipment failure
  • Inventory/stock losses
  • Fines
  • Reputation
  • Environmental destruction

The relevance of innovative techniques and lessons learned should be continually evaluated and incorporated into an emergency preparedness program if appropriate.  While often suppressed in favor of short-term profits, budgets for pertinent emergency management initiatives should be prioritized for long-term corporate sustainability. But “change for change’s sake” does not typically enhance programs. The evolution process of an emergency management program should aim to perpetuate improved responses and operational recovery times, and enhance company viability despite crisis scenarios.

For a free download on essential preparedness measures, click here or on the image below.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Tactical Response Planning, Emergency Management, Resiliency, Incident Management, Emergency Management Program, Communication Plan, Social Media

An Expert Guide to Demobilization and Post-Incident Recovery

Posted on Mon, Apr 28, 2014

Pre planning for demobilization and post-incident recovery allows for a collaborative understanding of necessary recovery elements and critical business unit restoration processes. Recovery objectives should include the meticulous restoration, strengthening, and revitalization of the site, surrounding infrastructures, and operations.

Disaster response operations should prioritize timely and accurate communication to facility managers, critical decision makers, emergency response teams, stakeholders, vendors and contractors, and, if applicable, the public in order to accelerate recovery without duplicating efforts. Once the response is concluded, specific demobilization guidelines provide “agreed-to procedures” to help facilitate a more organized and expedited return to normal operating conditions.  

The process of standing down response resources in an efficient and timely manner provides considerable cost benefits.

Issues to consider for demobilization include:

  • The On-Scene Incident Commander should approve the release or demobilize of response resources prior to initializing the process
  • Assign personnel to identify surplus resources and probable resource release times
  • Establish demobilization priorities based on the specific incident
  • Verify established decontamination procedures and necessary resources are available
  • If necessary, develop/communicate a Disposal Plan for the disposal of hazardous materials or wastes, as necessary.
  • Identify personnel travel needs and coordinate travel arrangements, as necessary.
  • Plan for equipment repair, decontamination, maintenance services, and inspections, as necessary
  • Initialize impact assessments and post-incident reviews

Even as the site response is being demobilized, responders must maintain heightened safety awareness. Any incident that extends beyond normal operating procedures may require a recovery plan component. The ability to institute a successful recovery plan requires stakeholders to maintain a clear understanding of post-disaster roles, responsibilities, and objectives. These components may include, but are not limited to:

RECOVERY PLANNING

  • Coordinate development, training, and exercise of the disaster recovery plan.
  • Establish and maintain contacts/networks for recovery resources and support systems.
  • Promulgate principles and practices that perpetuate resiliency and sustainability

RECOVERY OPERATIONS

  • Assess damage
  • Verify facility accessibility and safety
  • Identify internal and external recovery team contacts and contractors
  • Identify the scope of work for repair
  • Development of site specific plans and schedules for executing repairs
  • Restoration of operations
  • Institute mitigation measures
  • Identify “lessons learned” through post-incident reviews

Once the recovery period begins and/or appears that it will extend beyond the recovery capabilities of the facility, the Incident Commander should be responsible for the following:

  • Lead the creation and coordinate the activities of local recovery-dedicated organizations and initiatives.
  • Work with the federal, state, and local agency coordinators to develop a unified and accessible communication strategy.
  • Participate in damage and impact assessments with other recovery partners.
  • Organize recovery-planning processes to fully engage stakeholders and identify recovery objectives, priorities, resources, capabilities, and recovery capacity.
  • Ensure inclusiveness of the community in the recovery process through media and public relations efforts
  • Continually communicate recovery priorities to government liaisons, recovery stakeholders, employees, and the community.
  • Incorporate critical mitigation, resilience, sustainability and accessibility building measures into the recovery plans and efforts.
  • Lead the development of the facility’s recovery plan(s) and ensure that they are actionable and feasible based on available funding and capacity.
  • Collaborate with State, Federal and other stakeholders to identify external financial support for recovery, leverage the resources where possible and resolve potential duplication of assistance.
  • Work closely with the recovery leadership at all levels to ensure a well-coordinated, timely, and well-executed recovery.
  • Develop and implement recovery progress measures and communicate adjustments and improvements to applicable stakeholders and authorities.

The primary purpose of post-incident reviews is to identify deficiencies in the response plan and determine necessary actions to correct the deficiencies. The post-incident reviews can often reveal which response procedures, equipment, and techniques were effective, and which were not and the reason(s) why. These reviews can lead to “lessons learned” and should be reflected in the response plan, training efforts, and exercise objectives.

At a minimum, post-incident review checklists should include:

  • Name and typical duties of personnel being debriefed
  • Date, time and whereabouts of employee during incident
  • Actions taken during incident
  • Positive aspects of how the response occurred
  • Aspects identified for improvement

Be prepared for your next incident! Click the image below to download your free guide.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Incident Action Plan, Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Incident Management, Event Preparedness