management is defined as "a process to reduce loss of life and property and
to protect company assets from all types of hazards through a comprehensive,
risk-based, emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response
An Emergency Response is any incident which requires an immediate significant response by the responsible organization.
An earth quake,
flooding, evacuation, train derailment, a damaging financial report, are not minor or daily incidents. They are however significant. If the public and the media's focus is limited to 24 to 48 hours, then it usually qualifies as an
emergency again, it is not necessarily a crisis. It will test the complete rediness and capabilities of the responsible organization.
response is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied functions at an
industrial or commercial site. Many people think that if something bad happens,
the "public" response teams (fire department, police department) will
always be there. However, this may not always be the case. Public responders are
to protect the public; they may not have the technical expertise, training or
equipment to handle some of the hazards in industrial facilities. Management
must know the capabilities of all local responders, and, if need be, develop
plans to use the people in the facility to take care of emergencies specific to
Industry is private, and many times the public responders are only
capable of protecting the public from industrial accidents. There are many
instances where the public responders have not gone onto industrial property
because they were not properly prepared. And in some cases, management would
rather have the public fire service stay outside the property during an
incident. Each individual site will be different; knowing the differences takes
communications with all responders involved. Have you had a face-to-face meeting
with the local responders in your area to discuss possible incidents?
the fire department responded to a fire in a plant and said they wouldnít
fight the fire
because they didnít know how to handle the
chemicals that may be burning. And there is nobody on the site trained to fight
the fire either; no in-house fire brigade, and the hazardous materials team
isnít trained to handle burning hazardous materials. (A hazmat team may be
prepared to handle spills, but what about fires with hazardous materials?) What
happens? Everyone looks at each other while the place goes up in smoke and the
hazardous materials create a disaster. This has happened in the past, and it
will happen again. What is your managementís level of commitment?
The communications focus in an emergency response is geared to several key roles:
internally before you make public statements. Otherwise chaos will truly
reign and morale will sink even deeper; thus under-mining the quality of
with the Emergency Services
the public and key stake holders, such as regulators, partners,
customers, suppliers, local, state and federal officials and
and meet the needs of journalists.
Set up and operate the public input channels, such as toll-free
phone lines, on-line communications, fax-back systems, public meetings.
Ensure the organization is visible throughout the process. Silence
and invisibility are signs of unwillingness, incompetence and fear which
undermines the perception that the emergency is under control.
the message. Keep the messages clear, honest and consistent. If your
message is patently false, premature, or unsupportable by readily
available facts, then don't say it.
Manage the perception of competence as well as the reality. The
media and the public react primarily on perceptions - of competence, truth, openness etc.
responsibilities for the communicator during an emergency:
that inaccurate or misleading reporting is corrected immediately.
Stay in contact with victims families. If they get all their news
first from the media, then their trust in your abilities and honesty
Ensure that all the news,
good or bad, is communicated as soon as you can confirm it. If there is
bad news, get it out all at once - to all media at the same time.
comprehensive emergency management program encompasses all hazards and all
related planning areas including disaster planning and preparedness,
identification and mitigation, emergency response, disaster recovery, business
continuity and resumption, crisis management, continuity of operations.
emergency management is required for day-to-day disruptions as well as managing
response to and recovery from disasters.
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