As we think of our friends in BC, we are reminded of how quickly nature can take control. With this in mind, we should all be taking the opportunity to review our Emergency Response Plans and ensure that the prospect of a weather event, critical human incident or other “unforeseeable” events, are actually foreseen and planned for.
In addition to acknowledging that dialling 911 is not a rescue plan and that the point in the plan is too essentially be prepared for anything. There are 10 key additional points that will make it effective:
1)Always go above and beyond- For example, when doing a first aid assessment, think about not just the likelihood of a particular injury, but how likely assistance will be available. Do you have people driving alone? Anyone on a stretch of highway at night (travel for training possibly?) or other situations where it may be difficult to get medical aid.
2)There is power in knowledge- Is there someone on every shift who can respond to an emergency? What would happen if the one requiring care is the manager on duty or the H&S rep? Can all your staff recite your physical address by memory and what to say to 911 or first responders?
3) Remember what ASS-U- ME stands for-Making assumptions in relation to an ERP isn’t just embarrassing, it could be life threatening. An easily overlooked item, is checking to be sure batteries in flashlights or cell phones are always charged.
4) Have your own back-and back up! - When your first line of defence is your landline, you can be sure that a back up plan is needed. The opposite is also true, can any of us honestly say we have never experienced a cell phone outage? Be sure that the right resources are available in the right places and accessible by ALL the right people.
5) A plan doesn’t work if it isn’t practiced- Waiting for tragedy to strike to make sure your plan works is not a way to respond to any emergency. When was the last time you performed a drill? Do you avoid drills in Winter? Emergencies happen then too, and people often respond differently. When staff suddenly disappear to their car or the local coffee shop because they are cold, your ability to account for them disappears. Do a drill at least annually in the colder months to ensure your people respond properly and you know what challenges you may need to face. Be sure to review with your team what you learned and how to make sure it doesn’t happen when trouble strikes.
6) Use incident investigations wisely- In the unfortunate situation where you are required to do an incident investigation, remember to also review your ERP. Was it adequate for the situation? Was it followed? If the incident had been a bigger issue would your ERP still have worked?
7) Be a friendly neighbour- Do you know the leadership and front-line staff at the companies beside you? Can you work co-operatively to support each other? For example, if you need to shelter your staff in cold weather, can you use their space (and vise versa) Are there other ways that you can support each other and ensure that people are cared for quickly and safely in the event that there is not immediate professional help available?
8) Buddy Up! - Have you ever noticed how people are paired off in first aid training? This isn’t just convenient for using resuscitation Sally, performing emergency first aid is always easier if you aren’t doing it all alone. Additionally, think about this- if you need a buddy on the training room floor, what makes anyone think a buddy isn’t needed in a crisis out on the lot or in the shop where the stress is high, and the stakes are even higher.
9) Be inclusive- In this case, we mean an inclusive process not just people. Does your ERP include all the factors beyond first aid? Have you considered fire, flood, wind, gas, impacts and human crisis for example?
10) Evacuation and Extraction- Are all your spaces accessible for evacuation and/or extraction? Can an ambulance get to the back of your lot where someone just had an injury? Can first responders get to your tire cage with equipment on? How about the building service spaces? Are the accesses encumbered by the Christmas tree and left-over decorations from the last Staff Party?
These are the top 10 basic things to consider. A strong ERP includes many other elements and addresses a multitude of challenges through detailed, well known and clearly functional practices.
It is worth noting that there is one emergency however, that “breaks all the rules” of a standard response plan. That is the “Active Shooter Response”. This type of Human Crisis has unique elements and if your staff follow the standard ERP, this could actually increase the danger. For more information on active shooter response plans please visit our blog post.
If you would like more information on how we can assist our dealership members in building and implementing a solid Emergency Response Plan, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org