So what are some things you should be thinking about in the time of disaster?
There are typically three phases of any disaster or emergency.
1. First Response
In the first response phase, the initial need is to ensure safety and security of the facility and providing immediate help to possible victims. This can include life sustaining efforts, first aid, food, water and basic living essentials. This phase also includes being prepared to handle any media inquiries which would require having an articulate scripted spokesperson prepared to represent your organization.
2. Clean-up Phase
This includes cleanup of any damage and getting the facility prepared for employees and customers to reenter. In the case of an armed intruder, much thought should be placed on how employees will mentally prepare to return to work. This is also the phase where grief counseling may need to be explored.
3. Recovery Phase
The final recovery phase is getting the facility back in order and ready to reopen for business. Depending on the emergency or disaster, this may take a few days, weeks, or months. In the case of a long-term recovery process, it is critical to have an off-site command center where a leadership team can help facilitate the recovery process.
Disaster Recovery Plan Manual Should include:
- Well thought out steps of action for each of the three phases of recovery. This is where you identify the who, what, where, when and how.
- Emergency contact information for: Employees, Vendors and Key Customers
- Information system requirements for hardware, software and business data back up files
- Telephone system layout
- Diagrams of building layout
- IT Network diagram
- Call tree of leadership team – basically what is the chain-of-command, who gets notified first and who notifies whom
Once the manual is completed it should be one of several contents that should be placed in a disaster recovery box. This box should be kept at an off-site location.
Contents of the disaster recovery box should include:
- Disaster Recovery Plan Manual
- Employee Manual
- Copies of insurance documents and policies
- Hard drive with computer software
- Backup files on all key business data
- Employee contact information
- Key customer and vendor contact information
- Nametags for employees in case they need to be identified to cross into restricted areas.
- Basic office supplies (paper, pens, tape, stapler, etc).
The box should be updated every six months to keep contents and contact information current.
The following are some useful websites links that can also be used to help you prepare your organization for unexpected emergencies.
Lastly, there will always be unpredictable aspects to any disaster but a little upfront planning can take a chaotic emergency situation and turn it into a smooth running recovery process.