Whether dealing with hurricanes, wildfires, floods, earthquakes or any other extreme disaster, your emergency response crew and their family must be prepared. By no means an exhaustive list, here are a few tips on how to prepare your crew for disaster.
1. Be Informed
Communities may be impacted by several types of hazards during a lifetime. Knowing how to act before, during and after an emergency is a vital part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.
It is important to know what type of disaster is most likely and what are the roles & responsibilities amongst the agencies in your region. For example, which organizations will be tasked to deal with a hurricane evacuation versus flooding. It is also important to know what training the other response teams in your region have, and how to quickly request their resource capabilities and monitor their availability.
2. Use Lessons Learned
I have talked about this in a previous post “Reducing Responder Knowledge Loss”. Natural disasters are unpredictable, however there are numerous learning opportunities that exist in data from previous disasters. Crews can learn from the information gathered by different states and countries that have dealt with disasters your region may be vulnerable to.
3. IT Disaster Recovery Plan
It is often overlooked that public service and businesses are becoming more and more reliant on IT infrastructure to complete many tasks and it is important to consider how your crew will deal with a breakdown of what is now a mission critical IT infrastructure.
It is important to consider:
- Information back-up “8 Ways to Backup Your Response Team Information”
- What IT support is available and who to contact in a disaster.
- Who is responsible for recovering connectivity for your organization.
- Is there an alternative connectivity/communication service such as satellite.
4. Get Your House in Order
As an emergency responder during a natural disaster you will likely be working long shifts without knowing where or how your family is. You need to put a support network in place that helps reassure you your family is safe in your prolonged absence. If you are doubting the safety of your family it will have an obvious impact on your ability to help others.
- Find out likely threats in your area
- Create a plan accordingly
- Practice and maintain your plan
- Distribute checklists: Turn off utilities, Keep relevant emergency phone numbers, Plan home escape, Find safe places, Store food and water, Do a home hazard hunt.
As a response agency, it is possible responders may not respond if they fear for the own families safety. Agencies should communicate the need for responders to have a disaster preparedness support network for their family, so there is a clear understanding of what will occur and what is expected. Have a central contact point in your organization for families to call, and gather the emergency contact details for all of your response crew - keep families informed of their safety in a deployment and vice versa.
5. Response Equipment
Your team must be informed as to what type of disaster could potentially affect an area and plan equipment needs accordingly. It’s also important to note that a lot of the equipment used to deal with a disaster, can go unused for long periods of time. The correct inspection, calibration and expiration tracking procedures must be carried out to insure equipment is in perfect working order when disaster strikes. This is one of the reasons we built Decisions [D4H] Equipment Manager.
To learn more about the features available with Decisions [D4H] Download an Information Pack.
Marc Healy - Head of International Business Development & Marketing at Decisions [D4H]