In honor of Earth Day this coming weekend (April 22, 2017), we’d like to talk about reducing your paper footprint and going digital with your emergency planning.
We’ve talked here on the Invictus Consulting blog about the pros and cons of mobile devices during an emergency. Although there are certainly numerous dangers of cell phones and emergencies (e.g., spread of false information; missing of lifesaving directions if an individual is on their phone; overloading of phone lines; impeding lockdown procedures and reunification procedures), we are under no illusion that mobile devices will be banned from schools or corporate environments.
“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”
Because mobile devices are here to stay and they are increasingly prevalent in our lives, we think it wise to include the use of mobile devices in your organization’s emergency planning and preparedness. What this looks like will be different for each organization, and we are not here to advocate for any particular product, but it is worth exploring the idea of mobile devices and emergency planning.
There are many benefits that can be derived from including mobile devices in your emergency planning. These include:
- Online emergency plan – many emergency planning apps allow you to upload your Emergency Operations Plan to the cloud; this is a great way to make sure that the plan doesn’t get lost or filed away in some filing cabinet in someone’s office without anyone actually reading the plan; it’s also a great way to make sure that everyone concerned actually has access to the plan (with that said, making sure everyone involved has the plan does not ensure that they have all read the plan and understand their roles in an emergency – for that you will need to drill the plan)
- Instant update of emergency plan – by having your Emergency Operations Plan in the cloud, any updates made to the plan can be seen by users immediately; this is obviously preferable to an executive team making changes to the plan only for the updated plan to be filed away without being distributed to anyone (sadly we’ve seen this scenario many times)
- Instant communication with your team – hopefully your Emergency Operations Plan has been drilled by your Crisis Management Team and everyone knows their role and exactly what to do in various emergency scenarios, but incorporating mobile devices into your emergency planning adds an extra layer of communication during an emergency, allowing you to coordinate with your Crisis Response Team in real time; in fact, using communication via mobile devices should be included in your drilling
- Real-time updates during an emergency – many emergency planning apps allow you to update users in real time; the benefit here is that the Crisis Management Team can spread correct information before people potentially spread the wrong information (during a crisis, when people are scared and panicked, mis-information can spread quickly – even if the mis-information is not intentionally incorrect information)
- Mass notification – mass notification via mobile devices is often the best way to get information to people; after all, most people have their mobile device with them (or near them) throughout the day
- Crisis Management Team – we have come across many instances where an organization has a Crisis Management Team in place, but the only people who know about the team are those individuals on the team; incorporating mobile devices into your emergency planning can give people a way to know who is on their Crisis Management Team and give them a way to contact the team if necessary
- Contact list – this point is similar to the one above – namely that incorporating mobile devices into your emergency planning can give users a list of emergency numbers right at their fingertips
- Online building layouts – many emergency planning apps allow you to upload site layouts to the cloud; while nothing can replace having emergency exit maps located throughout your building(s) and drilling evacuation procedures, allowing users to have a map of their building at their fingertips can be helpful during an evacuation
Undoubtedly there are more arguments for incorporating mobile devices into your organization’s emergency planning. Whether or not you choose to make the transition, please send some time annually updating your Emergency Operations Plan.