The Fall Semester is underway and the buzz of back-to-school around campus has calmed down a little bit. Students and staff are more comfortable and familiar with their schedules and the campus layout. You and your Crisis Communications Team have reviewed your emergency communication plan - as well as held tests and exercises with the entire campus - and feel confident about your emergency plan. However, practicing and revisiting your emergency plan in alignment with your emergency notification system gives you the opportunity to see what tweaks or revisions you should make to your plans.
Immediately initiating your organization’s emergency response plans’ predefined series of notifications is essential in getting people to safety and minimizing the impacts of emergency situations. The reliability, speed, and accuracy of information are vital components in determining the effectiveness of emergency response. Crises like an unplanned outage, active shooter, or inclement weather all require the dissemination of accurate information at a moment’s notice.
Within the last several months, we’ve seen a number of news stories related to organizations of all different types sending out emergency alerts to their constituents that they didn’t mean to send. This has increased as more active shooter scenarios have made it into media headlines. In an effort to prepare, check, or even test emergency notification systems, organizations are accidentally sending out emergency alerts that are not identified as a drill or test. This might be a flaw with the organization itself or it may be a flaw with the emergency notification system the organization employs.
If the first major hurricane of the season caught your business by surprise, you need to act quickly to remedy the situation for future storms. Hurricanes are not spur of the moment “pop-up” storms. Thanks to innovations in technology over the past 50 years, we are able to estimate when a hurricane will hit land, the strength of the storm, and the direction of its path. Of all of the recognized crises, hazards, and exposures your business can face – hurricanes have the most advanced warning. Having this knowledge gives you time to better prepare your people, your home, and your business.
Fall is an extremely busy time for schools; not only are there new students, faculty, and parents to add or register as emergency notification recipients, but there’s also the possibility of new safety or security personnel to train on emergency response policies. Although it takes time and energy to prepare your pre-planned communications for your organization’s specific needs and policies, you should create a monthly or quarterly schedule for yourself - and your team - to verify and improve specific details pertaining to your emergency notification system (ENS). This allows you to stay ahead of the curve and not feel overwhelmed with your emergency notification system checks, tests, and improvements.
It’s not just universities that have multiple campuses or facilities. Organizations with multiple facilities face many challenges when it comes to safety and security. It can be a challenge to ensure emergency communications at one facility, but it’s an even bigger challenge when it pertains to multiple locations, multiple personnel groups, multiple endpoints, and multiple integrations. Additionally, keeping your colleagues safe from harm can be difficult to manage due to overlapping responsibilities or poor communication. Every facility has different safety needs and it is often up to the operations and safety manager to make the call on what to do when things start to go sideways.