As recognized by the Jeanne Clery Act, emergencies on college campuses span from active shooters to bad weather to political protests. While the Clery Act is best known for requiring immediate emergency notifications, it actually goes much further by establishing a baseline for each institution’s immediate emergency response and evacuation procedures, including the use of electronic and cellular communication. With the framework of the Clery Act and modern technologies, true preparedness and the ability to quickly respond is now possible.
According to Critical Mass magazine’s September 2017 survey, emergency notification system administrators are looking towards the world of automation to extend their organizations’ reach for emergency notification, action, and response. The results indicate that although text, email, and voice call notifications still dominate implementations - organizations are working towards evolving into a more sophisticated and automated scenario-based approach.
We hope emergencies never happen. With the increasing instances of violence in the workplace, environmental disasters, and terrorism, corporations are being challenged to minimize the associated impacts to operations and lives. Unfortunately, the reality is they will arise at any time. Preparing for potentially disastrous events cannot be left to an ad hoc management approach to risk. The question is how can organizations mitigate risk when they do arise?
Many organizations have implemented an emergency notification system to notify their people and most have an emergency action plan. Although this plan is helpful to an organization’s internal team, what about direction for those receiving the alert? Just sending an alert via text message or email to your people is not enough.
Today, the ways to notify your people are practically endless. They are registered to receive text messages and/or emails. And, whether implemented or not, they have the capability of receiving those same notifications as they are sitting in front of a computer that displays an emergency message, while walking down a hall hearing it via a PA system, or by seeing a digital sign broadcasting information. As a result, your people have multiple ways of staying informed about what is going on and can remain off property if directed.
But what about your visitors and/or those not registered to receive alerts?
We’ve recently been discussing ‘the Most Important Minute’ - that first minute during a crisis situation when every second counts. Since emergencies can be frantic and emotional by nature, what you do during the first minute of a crisis can severely impact the outcome. That is why it is essential to plan well in advance and be ready to execute your Emergency Response Plan, and critical communications should definitely be a part of that plan.