Fire, terror threats, crime alerts and extreme weather are all threats which drive the critical need for an emergency evacuation plan. Every workplace requires a thorough emergency evacuation plan to ensure the safety of their staff, clients, contractors and visitors – and for schools and universities, their students.
An emergency evacuation plan may form part of a wider emergency management & business continuity plan. Emergency management and business continuity are strongly related, as effective emergency procedures can help minimise the effect which an incident has on business operations. This wider plan can help the organisation return to ‘business-as-usual’ as quickly as possible. A well thought-out plan strengthens your organisation’s ability to recover from financial losses, damages to equipment or the interruption.
Ensuring everyone is evacuated from the building and accounted for quickly is the priority, but this also poses the biggest challenge for many organisations. We take a look at the key role visitor management can play in emergency management and identify 5 key elements of a sound emergency evacuation plan:
Established chain of command
A clear chain of command should be defined within your emergency procedures to establish who should take charge of different elements. This is especially key to make sure the roll-call takes place quickly and efficiently to establish the whereabouts of everyone that has been in the building. You may find it useful to document an emergency management team, which would detail the individual in charge and supporting staff members. In the case of staff absences this is key so that other members are equipped to fulfill the role.
Documented emergency evacuation plan & procedures
Staff should be trained on set evacuation procedures and have documentation at their disposal to keep these procedures fresh in their minds. This documentation should include up-to-date floor plans which shows different evacuation routes, a list of emergency equipment, information on the alarm and warning systems and staff responsibilities. Hard and electronic copies should be stored and circulated regularly. The emergency management team will be featured in this documentation with the contact details for each team member.
In certain organisations where machinery is in action, such as in a manufacturing environment, this may need to be shut down for safety. The team members responsible for this should be aware of the requirements and the procedures here. It’s critical that they understand at what point they must leave the building for their own safety.
Evacuation wardens or officers are appointed as part of a sound emergency evacuation plan. High Speed Training explain 5 key duties of a warden:
- Instruct people to leave the building via the safest route – offer assistance to anyone who needs it and make sure all all visitors — who might not be familiar with the building evacuation routes and exits – get to safety.
- Search the area – perform a full sweep of the premises to ensure full evacuation
- Minimise risks – whilst in the process of evacuating take action to minimise risk such as closing non-exit doors to prevent fire spread
- Cooperate with the emergency management team – work together to respond efficiently and provide emergency services with the information they need if present
- Report to assembly points and conduct roll-calls – Perform the roll-call, preventing anyone from re-entering the building. If anyone is unaccounted for, you must then inform emergency services.
An electronic visitor management system like VisiPoint can play a key role in emergency management, helping the management team carry out their roles more effectively. With VisiPoint, it is much easier for the evacuation officers to provide emergency services with the information they need. Instant reports are available on who is in, out or expected at the premises.
The evacuation officer, who will likely be the operations or facilities manager, needs to quickly access the following information:
- How many people are currently in the building?q
- How many visitors and external staff such as contractors are in the building?
- Who are the visitors on site with/ who are their hosts?
With a visitor management system, staff benefit from instant evacuation registers can be used as roll-call. These can be printed from the system or accessed from any browser-enabled mobile device. These real-time registers hold key information about staff, contractors, visitors (and students where applicable) and display the photo held on file for each individual to make identification as simple as possible.
Also, using an advanced visitor management system allows you to support the law enforcement leaders in further investigation, if any criminal activity is sensed by the authorities. The effort to plan ahead of time carries a lot of benefits.
A ‘grab bag’ is a folder/bag that organisations keep handy in case of an emergency. It includes necessary resources and should be kept in a place it can be accessed quickly by those responsible. It may include items such as the evacuation procedures documentation, a first aid kit, petty cash etc. This grab bag will also be added to in the event of an emergency with items that need to be up-to-date such as attendance lists.
A visitor management system will streamline this process as staff do not have to physically collect the necessary data. This data will be held on the cloud and can be access in real-time via any browser-enabled mobile device. This can save vital time during an incident and the responsible staff profit from real-time information at their fingertips.
To explore the way your organisation can use a visitor management system to enhance your emergency management procedures, request a demo or more information below and our team will be in touch.