There are many resources required for the preparedness program including:
- Communications and warning technologies
- Fire protection and life safety systems
- Pollution control systems
- Materials and supplies
- Special expertise
- Information about the threats or hazards
Consider the following examples:
If there is a fire inside a building, the fire alarm system warns employees to evacuate. An evacuation team guides employees to safe exits and outside to assembly areas. The fire alarm system, evacuation team and exits are resources.
When a primary facility cannot be occupied, a suitable alternate facility (if available) may be used. The alternate facility is a resource for the business continuity plan.
A needs assessment should be conducted to determine resources needed. Resources may come from within the business including trained employees, protection and safety systems, communications equipment and other facilities owned or leased by the business. Other resources from external sources include public emergency services, business partners, vendors and contractors.
The availability and capability of resources must be determined - some are required immediately. For example, trained people (employees or public emergency services) capable of administering first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) must be available to respond at a moment’s notice. Other resources such as plywood to board up windows in anticipation of a hurricane may be stockpiled in advance or purchased when a storm is forecast. Even if plywood is stockpiled in advance, temporary labor may be needed to install the plywood over windows and doors.
The availability of resources often depends on logistics. Logistics is the management of resources to get them to where they are needed when they are needed.
Assessing resources for the preparedness program begins with reviewing program goals and performance objectives. High-level goals of the program include:
- Protect the safety of employees, visitors, contractors and others who may be at risk from hazards at the facility
- Maintain customer service by minimizing disruptions of business operations
- Protect facilities, physical assets and electronic information
- Prevent environmental pollution
- Protect the organization’s brand, image, and reputation
Examples of performance objectives include:
- The first aid team (that is trained to administer first aid and perform CPR) will be able to reach any employee within two minutes.
- The evacuation team will be able to direct all employees to safe exits and account for them outside the building within four minutes.
- Customer service staff will begin contacting customers within 8 hours of a service disruption using office space and telephone service provided by a business partner.
- The primary network server will be restored within 24 hours with replacement equipment from your primary vendor and data restored from backup media retrieved from the secure storage site.
- Production of product A will resume within 1 week by displacing production of product B at Plant B.
For each objective, an assessment of resources needed to accomplish the objective should be conducted. Simple objectives may require limited resources. Aggressive objectives will require many resources with significant capabilities available on short notice. Remember, without sufficient resources, or if resources lack required capabilities, objectives may not be attainable.
Conducting the Needs Assessment
Besides identifying specific resources for the preparedness program, the needs assessment should answer other questions:
- What quantity of a resource is required?
- When will the resource be needed?
- What capability does the resource need to have? Are there any limitations?
- What is the cost for procuring or having the resource available? Are there any liabilities associated with use of the resource?
There are many resources needed to support the preparedness program. These resources can be organized into different categories:
Resources are needed for all phases of the program including prevention/deterrence, mitigation, emergency response, business continuity, crisis communications and disaster recovery.
Employees are needed to staff emergency response, business continuity and crisis communications teams. The emergency response team may be limited to employees trained to direct evacuation or sheltering. Some businesses may choose to organize emergency response teams to administer first aid, perform CPR and use automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Still others may train staff to use portable fire extinguishers. Regulations define minimum requirements that include training and organizing employees. Staff is needed to develop and manage the business continuity and crisis communication plans. The teams will likely be made up of employees working in their respective departments. Some staff may be assigned to work at alternate worksites if a primary worksite cannot be occupied.
Facilities for emergency response include defined shelter space for protection from a tornado or interior space when “shelter-in-place” from an exterior airborne hazard is required. Facilities should also include a room that can be equipped to serve as an emergency operations center for supporting response to an incident. Other facilities needed include office space or a meeting room with communications equipment to serve as a communications hub.
Facilities for business continuity may include alternate workspace equipped for continuation of business operations. Alternate facilities may be owned or contracted including office space, data center, manufacturing and distribution.
Systems for emergency response may include detection, alarm, warning, communications, suppression and pollution control systems. Protection of critical equipment within a data center may include sensors monitoring heat, humidity and attempts to penetrate computer firewalls.
Every building has exit routes so people can evacuate if there is a hazard within the building. These exit routes should be designed and maintained in accordance with applicable regulations.
Business continuity resources may include spare or redundant systems that serve as a backup in case primary systems fail. Systems for crisis communications may include existing voice and data technology for communicating with customers, employees and others.
Equipment includes the means for teams to communicate. Radios, smartphones, wired telephone and pagers may be required to alert team members to respond, to notify public agencies or contractors and to communicate with other team members to manage an incident.
Other equipment depends on the functions of the team. Automated External Defibrillators may be required for a first aid/CPR team. Fire extinguishers would be required for a fire brigade. Spill containment and absorbent equipment would be required for a hazardous materials response team or trained employees working in their assigned workspace. Personal protective equipment including hearing, eye, face and foot protection may be required for employees as part of a safety program.
Many tools may be required to prepare a facility for a forecast event such as a hurricane, flooding or severe winter storm.
Materials and Supplies
Materials and supplies are needed to support members of emergency response, business continuity and crisis communications teams. Food and water are basic provisions.
Systems and equipment needed to support the preparedness program require fuel. Emergency generators and diesel engine driven fire pumps should have a fuel supply that meets national standards or local regulatory requirements. That means not allowing the fuel supply to run low because replenishment may not be possible during an emergency. Spare batteries for portable radios and chargers for smartphones and other communications devices should be available.
Money invested in the preparedness program can pay big dividends if an incident occurs. Consider the benefits of a fire being controlled quickly; immediate medical assistance that saves an injured employee; or a recovery strategy that enables continued customer service. Spending funds prudently on preparedness can pay back multiple times when measured against the potential for damage to equipment, facilities, loss of staff, lost customers and lost revenue.
Two worksheets are provided to assist with the needs assessment. Think about your program needs, identify additional resources and assess what is needed for your business.
There are many resources within your business that are needed for your preparedness program. These internal resources include staff for emergency response, business continuity and crisis communications teams. Other resources include facilities, systems, equipment, materials and supplies to support response, continuity and recovery operations. Identify needed resources and determine what resources are available internally. Resources that are not available must be obtained from external resources. Consider the following internal resources for your preparedness program.
Employees can be assigned the following tasks.
- Monitor weather forecasts and Emergency Alert System messages, broadcast warnings if severe weather is approaching or other warnings are broadcast, and alert the emergency response team
- Direct evacuation and shelter actions (See Protective Actions for Life Safety)
- Administer first aid, CPR and use automated external defibrillators (AEDs)
- Provide facility security and take the lead on threats including bomb threats and suspicious packages
- Operate building detection, alarm, communications, warning, protection and utility systems
- Stabilize an incident using fire extinguishers; or cleaning up /containing small spills of hazardous chemicals
- Prepare a facility for a forecast event such as severe weather
- Clean up damage following an incident
- Lead the business continuity team; provide support for the team
- Execute recovery strategies for critical or time sensitive business processes;
- Serve as a spokesperson as part of the crisis communications team; communicate with employees, stakeholders and the news media; answer requests for information
Employees should be trained so they understand the importance of their assignments and follow established procedures. Some employees may be given the opportunity to learn new skills.
Office space and meeting rooms can be used as an emergency operations center (EOC), which is a facility for incident management. The EOC is a place to bring together personnel, gather information, facilitate communications, procure resources and support preparedness, response, continuity and recovery efforts.
Rooms or areas within the interior of a building that are structurally strong can shelter people from a tornado. Unobstructed exits that are marked with signs and equipped with emergency lighting are essential to quickly evacuating people if there is a fire or hazard inside.
Owned buildings at another site may be used as alternate workspace if a building cannot be occupied. This depends upon the location of the building and whether the building would be affected by the same hazard that prevented use of the primary building. The alternate facility may be a viable business recovery strategy if the building can be configured with the required equipment or existing equipment can be configured to need business requirements.
Systems and Equipment
Many systems and equipment are needed to detect potential hazards and threats, protect life safety and property and continue business operations. These resources include:
- Detection systems (fire detection, burglar alarm or intrusion detection, computer network security, Emergency Alert System receivers and television, radio, for news and weather)
- Alarm systems (fire alarm, intrusion alarm and process system alarms)
- Warning systems (occupant warning systems include fire alarm, public address and tornado warning)
- Communications systems (landline telephones, cellphones, smartphones, email and data, radios and pagers)
- Pollution containment systems (primary and secondary building containment and devices to stop the flow of materials from tanks and piping)
- Fire protection and suppression systems (fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, fire pumps and water supplies, special extinguishers for computer rooms and special hazards)
- Emergency power supplies (uninterruptible power supplies and generators).
- Building utility systems (electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and sanitary)
Evaluate these systems to determine whether they meet the needs of the program. Identify and plan to overcome emergency communication system limitations such as weak radio or cellular service or areas where a warning system cannot be heard. Upgrading this critically important system may be required. Verify that these systems are in reliable working condition. If fuel, battery backup power or batteries are required, make sure the system can run for the required time and chargers are available. Document how to operate these systems and mark the locations of controls. Make sure the information is available during an emergency. Many of these systems also require periodic inspection, testing and maintenance in accordance with national codes and standards. Train staff so a knowledgeable person is able to operate systems and equipment.
Materials and Supplies
There are lots of basic materials and supplies needed for the preparedness program. These "consumable" resources include clipboards, paper forms, pens and pencils. Sufficient copies of paper forms are especially important to do automated tasks manually. Flashlights with spare batteries are needed if the power goes out. Provision of food and water for personnel engaged in preparedness, response, continuity and recovery activities should also be addressed in the plan.
Preparing for an emergency, responding to an emergency, executing business recovery strategies and other activities require resources that come from outside the business. If there were a fire in the building, you would call the fire department. Contractors and vendors may be needed to prepare a facility for a forecast storm or to help repair and restore a building, systems or equipment following an incident.
An understanding of the availability and capabilities of external resources is needed to make decisions about the preparedness program. How long would it take the fire department to arrive? How do you reach a contractor late at night and how long will it take them to arrive? Determination of the response time and capabilities of external resources will help you identify gaps between what you need and what is available. Strategies should be developed to fill these gaps.
The following external resources should be identified within plan documents. Include contact information to reach them during an emergency and any additional instructions within the preparedness plan.
Public Emergency Services
(Note: one agency or department may provide multiple services)
- Emergency medical services
- Hospital or emergency health care provider
- Hazardous materials
- Law enforcement (local, county, state police)
- Public health
- Public works
Contractors and Vendors
- Emergency services (hazardous materials cleanup, facility repair and restoration)
- Systems and equipment (procurement, inspection, testing and maintenance)
- Information technology (equipment procurement, data backup, recovery solutions)
- Business continuity (generators, temporary equipment, leased space, office trailers)
(*Reciprocal or mutual aid agreements)
- Business partners (suppliers, contractors, vendors and professional services firms that could lend assistance with services, temporary workspace and other resources)
- Businesses or civic organizations in the community
* Reciprocal or other agreements should be documented in writing if possible.
Logistics considerations are an important part of the preparedness program to ensure that resources will be available when and where they are needed.
Compile an inventory of internal and external resources to identify their location, the operating procedures and the persons who can operate these systems. Also, note the estimated delivery or response time of external resources.
A person should be assigned responsibility for logistics and to manage resources to support the preparedness program. They should work with the emergency response and business continuity teams who can identify resource needs.
Logistics procedures should define procurement requirements including the names of employees who have the authority to issue purchase orders and contract for services. Procedures should also be established to expedite obtaining resources during an emergency. Open purchase orders with potential contractors and vendors will expedite the procurement process.