According to FEMA, up to 40% of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen. Having procedures in place to minimize damage and increase survivability will improve the odds that your business will weather a disaster. Also, very few people can think clearly when an emergency hits, especially if it’s unexpected. Your best chances for a clear, logical response to an emergency or crisis is by planning what you’ll do in advance, with the right systems and security in place, rather than just reacting in the heat of the moment.
In short, you need a plan. Emergency preparedness starts with a well-thought-out emergency response plan that details what’s needed to ensure safety during a critical event, so members of your organization are clear about what to do in those crucial early moments.
To be clear, a plan alone won’t ensure safety (it’s just the first step). However, if you stop at simply developing a plan the right tools and technology to actually implement it, your plan will fall flat in the face of a crisis or emergency. It is similar to having a CPR manual, yet never learning the actual steps necessary to save someone’s life. In the end, that manual on the shelf won’t make a difference if all it does is collect dust.
Let’s look at some best practices for emergency response and how to develop an effective plan that’s customized for your organization and details specifically how to manage each stage of an emergency. Then we’ll talk about five practical steps that will help you improve your emergency response.
Emergency Response Best Practices
The first step to developing your emergency response plan is to identify potential emergency scenarios: What are some things that might happen that could threaten your organization’s property or people? Even if these scenarios are unlikely, this exercise will help you define what specific resources your business may need in order to respond effectively. Of course, this will be different for every business. Some plans will spell out how to handle an emergency that involves hazardous materials that may be on hand, while others may detail the response to a natural disaster that’s possible in their area, such as a hurricane, earthquake, or tornado.
At a minimum, you want your emergency plan to protect as many lives as possible—that’s your first priority—and to minimize as much property damage as possible.
Businesses and organizations can take their cue from the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8, which describes best practices for emergency response based on lessons learned from terrorist attacks, hurricanes, school incidents, and other crises or disasters. It’s important to address these five areas in your emergency response plan: prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery.
Prevention. What do you need in order to avoid, prevent, or stop a crisis or disaster? This includes capabilities like a strong security system, effective door locks, identity management, awareness of your environment, including video surveillance—anything that can help stop a crisis before it starts.
Protection. If an emergency or disaster does occur, what do you need in order to protect the people affected or the property involved? A quick and efficient lockdown system, for example, can save lives in the event of a threat at or near your building.
Mitigation. How can you reduce the loss of life or property damage?
Response. How can you expedite response time to an emergency and help get it stabilized as soon as possible?
Recovery. How can you quickly assist the people injured, affected, or displaced?
Five Steps to Improve Your Emergency Response
The right security solution will allow you to take your emergency response plan off paper and put it into action. For example, Verkada’s intuitive hybrid cloud platform can help you manage the prevention, protection, mitigation, and response areas so that the recovery phase can begin quicker.
Let’s run down five steps that will bolster your response to an emergency or crisis so that your organization will be able to weather the storm with minimal loss or damage.
1. Secure your environment.
The first step to securing your environment happens even before an emergency or crisis happens. Today’s emergency response capabilities require a modern approach to physical security and building management.
On-premise video security solutions are hard to access remotely and securely. On the other hand, cloud surveillance systems where all the cameras stream footage simultaneously to the cloud consumes more bandwidth than many networks can accommodate—this makes it expensive or impossible to scale. A hybrid-cloud camera architecture like Verkada’s bridges the gap to deliver the best of both worlds.
Integrated video security, door security, alarms, monitoring and more will keep your environment safe and secure—and it’s all easily controlled with a single pane of glass.
You can connect all of your Verkada physical security devices in a single, cloud-based platform called Command and manage them with point-and-click simplicity. Plus, you can add more devices and sites as needed without complicating the user experience.
2. Monitor and understand your environment in real-time.
The right information and alerts empower you to respond quickly. Verkada offers professional video monitoring to detect and respond to threats in real-time. With the click of a button, customers can enable remote monitoring of events conducted by our team of U.S.–based monitoring agents. Verkada Virtual Guard provides 24/7 peace of mind with on-demand professional protection of your facilities.
3. Build automated response plans.
Whether it’s an armed intruder, assault, or medical emergency, situations that require immediate action can crop up at any time—that’s when you need a literal Panic Button. Verkada’s wireless Panic Button enables you to immediately (and discreetly) call for help, while leveraging Verkada camera footage to provide important context about and footage of an incident.
Build customized response plans for your organization and to comply with state mandates like Alyssa’s Law. Verkada’s smart security technology ecosystem injects automation into emergency response plans. With preconfigured responses and tools for safe incident resolution, organizations can better prepare for critical events.
4. Stay ahead and informed with real-time alerts.
One of the key benefits of Verkada’s cloud-based Access Control is the ability to enable organizations to see what is happening across their buildings in real-time. With Live View, teams have been able to instantly see all access-based events, including access granted and rejected, as well as doors being forced or held open.
Available notifications include:
Door Forced Open
Door Held Open
Suspicious Entries Within a Set Time Frame
If one of these events occurs, users will receive an immediate notification so they can respond in real-time. This enables organizations to have greater confidence in their ability to keep their building safe without actively monitoring every door event.
5. Quickly resolve incidents with simple tools.
Verkada’s ecosystem of security devices enables organizations to monitor all their environments and generate alerts in real-time. From video security cameras that provide real-time alerts to environmental sensors that detect abnormal events, Verkada quite literally brings your building online and unifies security endpoints behind a single, easy-to-use pane of glass, which means you’ll be able to respond and resolve emergency incidents quicker than if you were using a variety of systems and devices that didn’t sync.
Closing Thoughts: Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail
Preparing in advance for an emergency is the best way to manage one. The initial minutes in an emergency are critical, and preparedness is key to navigating a crisis situation in order to protect lives and mitigate damage. From active shooter scenarios to natural disasters, it’s essential for organizations today to be prepared for every scenario, even if you think “that would never happen here.”
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