Emergency Response Plan
What is an Emergency Management Plan?
Emergencies can come knocking on people’s doors when they least expect them. Unless remedial actions are taken within the first few minutes of the emergency, the consequences (i.e. financial, environmental, material, and/or human losses) could be disastrous. Every administrative or governing authority (especially the regional, state, and local governments), and businesses (with respect to their Business Continuity management plan) require a well-defined action plan to minimize and mitigate possible losses when emergencies strike.
An Emergency Response Plan (ERP) or a Crisis Management Plan (CMP) establishes the framework for a comprehensive emergency management program. An effective emergency management plan contains the essential strategies, assumptions, policies, operational goals and objectives, and mechanisms through which resources can be suitably mobilized and guidance and support provided for emergency management efforts through prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.
To enable the execution of effective response and recovery operations, emergency planning management adopts a functional approach that categorizes the types of emergency assistance which can be integrated into Emergency Support Functions (ESFs), and groups recovery tasks into Recovery Functions (RFs).
- Key stages of the ERP Preparation Process:
1. Obtain background information: This includes reviewing the existing plan(s), procedures, and relevant written material, researching legal planning requirements and relevant laws, policies, guidelines to ensure plan compatibility and compliance.
2. Analyze the activity process flow: Gaining an understanding of how the process is to be organized, and how it should operate during actual emergency and disaster conditions.
3. Identify possible hazards: This consists of obtaining and summarizing the existing hazards facing the community and its environment and including it in the basic plan, for which the Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA)has to be read and understood in detail. The next step is all about determining and agreeing on the best approach to integrate and mitigate specific hazards concerns, i.e. the schedule of the special subjects appended to the ERP.
4. Determine the ERP’s structure, format, and content: This consists of reviewing real-life examples of best practices, developing the ERP outline, and the table of contents. The basic plan format and outline are then established, with the order of the diagrams, charts, maps to be used.
5. Identify the key stakeholders in the plan development process: This includes determining which organizational departments will be involved in the planning process, and how they will function, as well as developing a ‘primary/support’ responsibility matrix.
2. Factors to be considered while defining an Emergency Response Plan:
a. Reduce Timelines: One of the principal factors influencing the preparation and definition of an ERP is to prepare an SOP driven process framework which crucially helps to reduce the response times for the emergency calls, cases and issues reported to the concerned authority, as also to minimize the report generation delays, caused periodically due to technical glitches/system outages.
b. Plan for backup of response team: The first point of contact with the aggrieved party during an emergency or disaster, it is the responsibility of the emergency response team and its members to arrive at the scene to isolate, evacuate, contain, and neutralize the incident as much as possible. The team will then be responsible for managing and directing the various activities required to execute emergency response and recovery.
Thus, due to the pre-eminence of the response team in the context of the Emergency Response Plan, there should always be backups and alternate team members ready and available in case the original members get injured or affected and are unable to carry out their scheduled tasks.
c. Track KPIs to monitor bottlenecks and improve efficiency: KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are performance parameters that measure or quantify how effectively the emergency or crisis management plan
helps to mitigate situational damage. They help to provide direction and guidance about the emergency preparedness measures, which strengthens emergency response mechanisms. Nowadays, digital KPI report dashboards are accurately mapped to the emergency planning management system processes and get activated the moment a complaint comes through the system. These KPIs also help to identify and pinpoint delays in achieving emergency response process milestones, measure outcomes and results from every actionable complaint, track process bottlenecks, enable continuous monitoring, and process improvements, and also generate crucial actionable insights, resulting in overall process efficiency.
d. Define SOGs (Standard Operating Guidelines): In the context of defining an effective emergency management plan, Standard Operation Guidelines (SOGs) are clear instructional frameworks that document and provide clear-cut information on the methods, procedures, and requirements to run the ERP, including applicable process flow activity modules, plans, and strategies. This set of standards at a baseline level can’t be altered, and have to be followed by all ERP team members. This ensures that everyone is suitably aligned, and consistently performing tasks specific to their roles and responsibilities. These SOGs also can be extended to other departments and can help iron out miscommunication and process inconsistencies.
e. Define policies and procedure manuals: Visual SOPs (preferred Video): Visual SOPs are SOPs created preferably as videos, visual checklists, and/or photographs with images, pictures, diagrams & infographics with minimal text. These types of digital SOPs are technology-enabled hybrid, visually appealing process guides used for quick, effective SOP communication under an emergency response scenario, ensuring that the user’s attention is captured, and they can quickly understand the core instructions framework. The following are the various advantages of using Visual SOPs when creating an Emergency Response Plan:
- Captures the reader’s immediate attention due to the attractive SOP visualization
- Breaks the language or literacy barrier
- Can easily help to define the emergency response policies and process manuals
- Can deliver vital information more directly and quickly
f. Robust IT systems: Robust IT systems and infrastructure go hand-in-glove with the creation of an effective crisis management plan or emergency planning management. They primarily help to minimize direct and indirect disruptions caused due to the emergency response process and emergency report creation delays and the costs and losses associated with them. Importantly, a resilient IT system helps in seamless communication of information across various departments due to its strong network infrastructure, as also reduces delays caused due to power outages and system downtime. The system can also be suitably integrated with automated ticketing tools, ensure real-time collaboration and progress tracking of the status of emergencies, and eliminate possible data breaches and data loss.
3. How BPX helped UP Police Department achieve excellence in emergency response SOPs?
Operating out of Pune, India, Business Process Xperts (BPX) is a leading management consulting firm specializing in the development of Emergency Response Plans and customized digital SOPs. The business is a division of Mind-A-Mend Consultancy Private Limited, along with its sister organizations YRC and YFC.
In 2020, BPX successfully created and organized a customized Emergency Response Plan framework for the UP Police Department, through the effective implementation of step-by-step process manuals or SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). These SOPs have helped to significantly improve processes, user efficiency, citizen satisfaction, and the overall management and streamlining of systems and processes. BPX has also enabled critical IT system integration with the SOPs, for the entire umbrella of UP Police Digital platforms and service offerings, helping to create a holistic and synchronized Emergency Response System for all the citizens at large.
The Problem Statement – Key Challenges addressed by BPX:
The Uttar Product Police department needed a well-defined, standardized Emergency Management System (EMS) dashboard structured around its Emergency Helpline number 112 and accessible round the clock 24×7. Any citizen can give a call on this number to address any emergencies, arising out of civil, criminal cases, fire, medical or health issues, and rail journeys. Complainants could call in digitally from any electronic device, be it a phone (mobile and landline), social media platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, the web portal, mobile app, emails, or SMS.
The key issues faced by UP Police that were effectively solved by BPX were:
- Reduce the response times for the calls/cases/issues reported
- Minimize report generation delays, often caused due to technical glitches/system outages
- Effective tracking and monitoring of every call, and quick allocation and visibility for the nearest response team, who could see the complaint notification on their mobile apps and websites, while on the move, enabling quick response and action
- Better coordination between the response team members, in charge of critical components of the Emergency Management System
- Developing an effective risk and mitigation plan for the Emergency Response Helpline
- Optimize communication across all channels defined in the process flow
- Eliminate process gaps suitably identified and addressed by the end-to-end SOPs and SOGs defined by BPX