Emergency Response: Drills and Training

Effective and regular training gives the members of your team emergency response knowledge, whereas a drill provides experience. When faced with a real disaster, trained team members will be less likely to panic because they have already walked through the process and procedures. In short, they will be adequately prepared. The following tips will help you conduct effective drills that will improve response time and ready your team for whatever comes their way. 


Conducts Drills for Various Emergencies and Incidents 

The best thing you can do for your team is conduct drills that cover every situation. Nature can be unpredictable, and humans are even less predictable. Give your team the knowledge and experience needed to survive earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, windstorms, and other possible disasters. 


Keep Your Emergency Response Plan (ERP) and Emergency Management Protocol Current 

If you don’t have an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) for your business, you need to create one immediately. Goal Zero has extensive experience in this area, and we would love to chat with you further about your own ERP to clearly outline emergency management protocol and policies. The design should be such that anyone can take up any role to ensure the continuity of operations and recovery efforts. 


Your Emergency Management ERP is a living document. Review and update it regularly; at least annually. It should also be amended when you have a staff change, new team members, new vendors, additional offices, and new policies. When something within your organization changes that can affect your staff or operations, it needs to be reflected in your ERP. 


Clearly Define Emergency Objectives, Roles, and Responsibilities 

Make sure that each team member knows their role in an emergency and what they are to do within that role. Every year, provide updated copies of your ERP and inform employees of any changes to their role. Address any questions or concerns to ensure everyone has a full understanding of emergency protocols. 


For instance, there should be one person on each floor of your building or in each building who directs foot traffic during an evacuation. They will lead people to the evacuation routes and tell them where the meeting point is. 


Below are a few questions to ask during a drill to find gaps or opportunities for improvements to your ERP. 

  • What are your objectives when you conduct the drill? 
  • Do you want to walk through your emergency response plan? 
  • Do you want to fine-tune your emergency response protocol or improve evacuation time? 
  • Are you testing to ensure that your staff knows what to do and where to meet when they evacuate? 
  • Do you want to test the effectiveness of your call-down list?

Regularly Review Your Emergency Plan with Employees 

Emergency plans provide step-by-step instructions for how people proceed during a disaster or incident. Review the plan in a company-wide setting and ensure that every employee attends. Host a Q&A session to gain valuable feedback from your team and adjust your ERP based on those responses. 


Simulate the Crisis as Close to Reality as You Can 

To ensure that your simulation is as realistic as possible, it’s recommended to conduct both scheduled and surprise drills. Your staff can prepare for the scheduled emergency response drills and walk through the steps. At other times, they can test their response time with the surprise drills. It’s important to note that different disasters will require different responses. 


Conduct Emergency Response Drills regularly – At Least Quarterly 

It’s important to conduct drills regularly, especially if you have new employees or have moved to a new location. Even if nothing has recently changed in your business, walking through the response to a disaster will ensure that your employees are fully prepared. Plan a quarterly meeting to run through your ERP and allow for questions and clarification from employees if necessary. 


Conduct Feedback Discussions After the Emergency Response Drill 

Emergency response drills should always be followed up with a roundtable discussion. Give each employee a brief survey to complete to provide feedback regarding response time, the plan’s effectiveness, things that may need to change, and other questions or issues to address.  


To strengthen and improve your emergency response plan, it’s recommended to use feedback from roundtable discussions and surveys to construct an After-Action Report. Ensure that you have the necessary resources to complete all action items, assign a timeline to completion, and follow up on completed items to ensure they cover the original concern. 


Encourage workers to review emergency response guidelines regularly in safety meetings and designate times to do tabletop drills. Provide access to practice spill procedures, first aid skills, and use of specialty Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE). 


The commitment to ongoing safety drills and training is an investment that you can’t afford to ignore. Keeping employees safe, minimizing damage, and protecting the reputation of your organization should remain a top priority all year long. If you have questions, or would like to chat with us about your own safety targets, contact the Goal Zero team today. 

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