Emergency planning is a systematic process that incorporating practice to ensure success. Employers are required to develop emergency plans in anticipation of a future incident. Plan exercise is a regulatory expectation and risk management obligation to protect people and the environment. In order to be successful and sustainable, the planning and exercise process must be set in a management
NFPA 1600 can be act as a model for planning and practice activities using an all hazards PDCA approach. NFPA 1600 is a readily available framework that provides the basis for an emergency management system. This system can be linked to tools and templates available from DHS and FEMA. Using the PDCA model allows an organization to learn how to effectively develop policies and procedures that can then be practiced and practically applied successfully by the employees tasked to respond to an emergency.
A key to success with program development and execution is to first gain leadership support and involvement. Identify a leader in the organization that has the ability to actively support through resources and active engagement. This leader will act as a sponsor that will develop a sustainable team to work through the PDCA process. Resourcing is key as it will enable a team of individuals that can both actively engage with the PDCA process and can internalize ownership of the program. Program success is most often demonstrated by owners that are passionate about their work.
Ownership of this process should rest with the operations function of the organization. Operations has the staffing, resources, and metrics to drive sustainable change that will occur through the emergency planning process. Ownership by operations will also let the EHS professional act as a participant and technical expert. EHS as participant will enable the organization to learn. EHS as sole leadership during the emergency planning process will hinder the sustainable success of the emergency plan by not allowing operationalization outside of the EHS function.
Once the team is set, NFPA 1600, along with various other tools, can be incorporated into PDCA to generate a functional emergency management system.