Preparing for Emergencies: Part 3 – Training

So you’ve checked all the boxes — you’ve brainstormed possible emergencies, sought input, come up with a thorough emergency plan, and made sure to account for employees that may need extra help. Are you all set?

Not quite. Making an emergency plan work means taking the plan from paper to real life. That means training — and practice.

Employees should be familiar with the emergency plan and what they’re expected to do, as well as who would be in charge and who would be allowed to speak with the news media in case of an emergency.

Still, evaluations after incidents often show that experiences during drills provided the most valuable preparation, according to Ready.gov, a Department of Homeland Security website. Not every type of practice has to be a full-scale imitation of a real emergency. Walk-throughs, workshops, orientation seminars, discussion-based tabletop exercises and functional exercises for specific team members also can be effective. After a practice round, discussions or evaluation forms can help determine how things went and how the emergency plan might be improved.

Take those crucial final steps to prepare your workplace for the unexpected. Here are some of our Frequently Asked Questions about training employees for emergencies:

 Do we need to train all employees, or just managers?

If you want everyone to be safe, train everyone. It’s amazing how many leaders show up in times of crisis!

However, anyone with specific situational responsibilities — such as emergency response, business continuity and crisis communications — should have additional training, according to Ready.gov. That could include regular training to maintain CPR and other certifications, or training a spokesperson in how the company would want to communicate during various types of emergency situations.

 How often should we revisit the training? How much is too much?

We recommend at least every six months. People come and go — you want to be sure that everyone in your organization has the information.

Should we announce drills and exercises ahead of time?

Sometimes it’s helpful to provide some notice, but it’s also helpful to spring the occasional drill on your employees just to see if they really are aware of everything contained in the policy. If things don’t go well, future training can be based on the individual pieces that didn’t go as planned.

Are we required to have employees prove that they were trained on our emergency plans? Do we have liability if we don’t?

 It doesn’t hurt, but sadly, if something happens to one of your employees, you have liability no matter what. Of course, that liability may come in varying degrees, but you are responsible for the safety of your employees while they are working for you, regardless of whether they are on your premises or at a customer or client site.

Need help crafting a plan or training your people? Contact us today.

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