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. But when companies have multiple locations, each with site-specific risks and potential operational emergencies, how can corporate leaders know that response plans will be accessible, effective, timely and compliant?
Leading companies with multiple facilities are realizing that generic response planning templates often result in incomplete, ineffective, and non-regulatory compliant plans. As a result, web-based, database-driven software is gaining popularity as the practical solution for companies with complex preparedness obstacles. Advanced web-based software has been proven to streamline the challenges associated with multiple locations and regulatory requirements through a cohesive, yet site-specific standardization of best practices.
In order to maintain company-wide preparedness and regulatory compliance, every response plan must contain accurate, site-specific details consistent with operations, personnel, topography, sensitivities, weather, and other factors. This complex arrangement of continually evolving information has led leading companies to leverage this technology and reap the benefits of web-based, enterprise-wide emergency management systems.
Emergency Management Systems
Leading companies are embracing comprehensive, web-based response plan templates with an integrated database that can capture site-specific details for each location. With these systems, emergency managers can:
- Reduce the need for multiple plans for a single facility
- Minimize administrative costs
- Simplify plan reviews
- Minimize discrepancies across various plans
- Streamline response directives from one source
- More easily identify regulatory compliance gaps
Web-Based System Benefits
Maintaining accurate details across multiple plan types for a large number of facilities is a challenge, especially when there is limited personnel. Intuitive response planning systems that streamline formats, and utilize database technology to leverage and manage information offer tremendous benefits in improving compliance and preparedness. The most advanced systems are specifically designed to improve the following:
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 across multiple response plans. 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.
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 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.
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 systems can eliminate ”version-confusion” and allows responders to apply the most up-to-date and tested processes to a response.
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.
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, leading companies utilizing web-based, database software are recognizing that swift accessibility to plans with an accurate list of contacts, site-specific response procedures, and available resources, expedite the response process and minimizing impacts across the board.