Emergency Action Plans:
Emergency action plans, also known as emergency procedures help organizations specify what to do in certain dangerous situations. These can include a fire, medical emergency, severe storm, armed robbery, workplace violence event and active shooter situation.
Organizations should consider possible scenarios that could occur, giving careful thought to what actions should be taken for each. This starts with how to notify building inhabitants that danger is present and goes into more detail on specific action steps that may be required. Employees must obviously be part of the initial notification but customers and others working in the building must be considered as well. Action steps should be defined in the procedures where applicable, leaving people the flexibility to adjust to the situation at hand. Remember, no two situations are exactly the same.
However, developing procedures is only the first step. Specific training for employees must follow. This training includes the procedures’ content as well as any skills necessary to accomplish the desired subsequent tasks. Organizations should begin with general instruction and progress to a physical exercise where personnel actually demonstrate the competencies involved. Only through practice and repetition will these procedures become truly effective.
Never underestimate the power of planning ahead. Remember, don’t just react to crisis, prepare for it!
The Body’s Response to Danger:
In our ongoing effort to help people prepare for crisis situations, it’s important to consider how the human body responds to danger. When a person perceives danger, the human body releases various hormones, one of which is adrenaline, into the bloodstream. This is the body’s attempt to prepare itself for action, also known as the fight or flight response. This gives the body a burst of strength, speed and increased muscle tension in order to defend itself.
When the body enters this mode, it causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugars and fats to provide extra energy. It also shunts blood flow away from different parts of the body and directs it to the major muscle groups. As this takes place, some very important physiological effects occur in the body, which can affect peoples’ ability to perform certain tasks.
Site becomes narrowed, causing people to experience what some refer to as “tunnel vision”. Another effect is something known as auditory exclusion, which causes hearing to diminish. Time slows down to a point where a mere second seems like ten. As all this is occurring, the body’s fine motor skills diminish. Fine motor skills are tasks that require movements of small muscles controlling the hands, fingers and thumb. Examples would be buttoning your shirt, writing or threading a needle.
As organizations are formulating emergency action plans, they must keep these affects in mind. Some tasks may not be possible during times of high stress. An example would be an access control system, requiring people to insert a key into a slot to move from one section of the building to the next. During intense situations, a person may not have the ability to insert that key into the slot. In these cases, organizations should give careful consideration to using radio frequency cards or fobs in order to activate the same access control system, thereby overcoming this obstacle. Assessing different tasks requiring these types of fine motor skills can be a game-changer if crisis does strike.
Whatever your emergency procedures require, remember to keep things as simple as possible. Automating steps can assist in these efforts. Prerecorded messages or automatic lockdown devices are examples of things to consider. In all cases, the time to think about what should happen is not in the middle of an event. Consider the possible situations and what can be done to minimize confusion and maximize your effectiveness.
Need A Plan?
Need a plan (or better plan) of action? Vertex is here to help organizations develop emergency action plans.