Facility Dude

Responding to crisis: What to do before first responders arrive

By Kate Donnelly
Nov 03, 2014

Clubs, Facilities Management, Industry News

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Everyone wants to feel like they're prepared in the event of an emergency. Organizations everywhere have emergency response plans in the event of an unexpected crisis or disaster, and many also cultivate ongoing relationships with local first-response teams.

Responding to crisis: What to do before first responders arrive But even first response isn't instant. In the event of an emergency, what should be done between the time emergency services are called and the time they arrive? Just as each emergency is different, the strategy and response practice in each scenario will differ on a case-to-case basis. The minutes before emergency teams arrive can be some of the most tense and most crucial, so it's important to be prepared ahead of time in the event such an occurrence takes place.

Medical emergencies are the most common

Knowing what type of emergency is most likely to occur can be helpful in planning how to prepare for unforeseen events. While natural disasters and security threats all warrant planning, statistically, most emergencies tend to be of a medical nature. For example, CampLine reported that 38 percent of emergency calls coming from camps and camp facilities were due to medical concerns. While the source pointed out that these issues ranged anywhere from immediate, serious and life-threatening situations to less serious instances like lice or illness outbreaks, in most cases the emergency resulted because the facilities didn't have dedicated medical staff on-hand.

Communication as a tool

The best way to contain an emergency is to prevent it from happening. In this regard, knowledge, information, and education are important tools that the staff has at their disposal. As CampLine noted, all staff and building occupants should be briefed on potential early-warning signs for common virulent illnesses like flu. Encourage those who are sick to stay home, for up to 24 hours after they stop having symptoms to minimize the chance of spreading infection.

As with most issues, communication is key. In fact, an effective means of communicating with personnel is one of the most important aspects of an emergency response plan. Whether the issue is serious and widespread or more minor, building occupants need to be informed of what is happening, how it can affect them, and what their role should be in response and containment. Fortunately, there are technological solutions for this - many facilities have experimented with MMS communication, designed to notify all subscribers simultaneously via text message.

Newer solutions such as mobile-based applications like Crisis Plan allow staff to communicate essential information with building occupants in real-time, taking the guesswork and frenzied chaos out of communicating during an emergency.

Before the first response

Almost every crisis plan involves contacting the relevant emergency personnel, and this should be done as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of time spent waiting for help to arrive. Mobile apps like Crisis Plan can aid staff in knowing who to call, in what order, for a specific event. But once the call has been made, what can be done to help stabilize the situation?

Again, knowledge is key. While in general it's far better to wait for first responders to arrive on the scene, providing staff with clear, concise information for a specific situation is essential. 

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