The act of planning is more valuable than the plan itself. I have, during my career in the emergency management discipline, encountered many a client who waits patiently whilst I examine their facility, interview staff, inspect emergency warning systems and equipment, and analyse the risks inherent to their operational environment. Then, perhaps weeks later, when I deliver a customised emergency response procedures manual, the client is elated at the results.
What generally happens next is the amazing part. The glossy new emergency procedures manual is placed on a shelf in the manager’s office to take pride of place next to other compliance documentation, booklets and/or manuals!
The manual needs to be at hand if the facility is audited by safety inspectors or building auditors. That’s quite often the end result of all the diligent analysis and work that went into its compilation. Where is the manual when an emergency strikes? Who knows? Not in the hands of the person entrusted to act on behalf of the facility when things go awry – the Chief Warden.
Having an emergency plan is one thing. Having an emergency plan that people know about, can follow and have had some training revolving around the procedures that the plan advocates, is something else entirely.
Having a consultant apply expertise to the planning process is a wise move but involving staff and management in the planning process is a masterstroke. By taking part in the planning process, everyone has an insight into the formation of procedures, it creates awareness of the procedures and most importantly, it promotes buy-in from those very people that the plan and procedures seeks to protect.