September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) and a reminder that we need to be prepared for future critical events. “Disasters don’t wait, make your plan today” is a fitting theme for 2020. Right now, there is a trifecta of crises hitting the United States, including wildfires, hurricanes, and the ongoing pandemic with flu season on the brink. Organizations and schools are questioning whether they are prepared with an effective emergency plan and the best communication tools to handle these situations.
4 Ways To Maximize Preparedness
National Preparedness Month highlights the following steps:
- Make a Plan: Reach out to your employees and students to let them know how you plan to communicate with them before, during, and after a disaster strikes. This could possibly be through your organization or campus emergency alert systems. Update your emergency plan based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.
- Build a Kit: Ensure you have the proper supplies based on recommendations from the CDC at your workplace, school, and home. You will need to take into consideration the unique needs of some individuals.
- Prepare for Disasters: In order to limit the negative impact of a disaster, you should be aware of potential risks. You may also want to look into common hazards and act, such as the structural integrity of your facility in the face of a storm or other natural disasters.
- Teach Youth About Preparedness: Talk to students about preparing for emergencies. Make them aware of the role they will need to play and how they can help.
Preparing for Any Scenario
When a crisis or disaster strikes, you do not have time to run through protocols, which is why it is imperative to review these steps in advance. One way in which you can prepare is by setting up a predefined series of actions in your organization or campus emergency alert system based on various scenarios.
Pre-planning your initial incident responses helps your emergency response team effectively respond in the stress and adrenaline of an emergency situation. Emergency notification message templates can maximize the effect of your emergency preparedness plan. Give life to your emergency response plans by mapping them to automated scenarios.
The Critical Communications Cycle
Optimal emergency response efforts require more than simply sending out emergency text alerts and social media posts. Successfully managing the incident throughout the full critical communications cycle requires careful planning and coordination before, during, and after it occurs.
Advancements in technology can create opportunities for improved crisis communication, as long as the technology is properly integrated with a well-prepared emergency response plan. Establishing what role communications will play at each stage of an incident is a prerequisite for a well-prepared response.
- Before - Prepare: Proper planning and preparation before an incident ensures a concise response and helps manage the adrenaline and stress that inevitably accompanies an emergency. This is the most important stage in the critical communications cycle and probably why there is a whole month dedicated to preparedness.
- During - Notify: When an emergency strikes, emotions are high and sometimes you may not remember what to do or say. Without properly preparing ahead of time, risks increase. Notification, mobilization, and collaboration will suffer.
- After - Report and Improve: After an emergency occurs, it is time to debrief and try to return to business as usual. There will be data and anecdotal information that should be reviewed to improve the crisis communications plan and response for future events.