Operations Planner
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Emergency and Evacuation Plans : Why We Need Them!

publication date: Aug 29, 2011
author/source: Guest Colu,mnist Philip Farina, CPP, Farina and Associates, Ltd.

Emergency and Evacuation Plans

Why We Need Them!

History has shown us that when an incident occurs at our hotel or resort AND we have simply reacted or not properly prepared for it; the opportunity for catastrophic loss is greatly increased. These losses can include injuries and death as well as property, community and reputational damage.

Emergency and evacuation plans are proactive, working documents that should cover everything from a fire or natural disaster to the threat of an active shooter or terrorism event. They are designed to provide the safest avenue for the protection of your employees, guests and vendors. These plans should be updated at least semi-annually or whenever there is a turnover in any position of upper management.

Plans are classified by the type of threat and level of risk that the organization has the potential to face. For each threat, the following is some basic information that should be included:

  1. Who is going to be in charge?

  2. Communications to the employees, guests and emergency services? How and who will coordinate this? What will be the best method?

  3. How are the employees going to respond?

  4. What staging areas will be the safest? Do you know what the proper "stand-off" distances are for explosive devices? Will other hotels in your area, house YOUR guests?

  5. How the guests are going to be treated?

  6. Who will speak with the media? In-person, television and radio, social media?

  7. Have you considered what protective measures and safety equipment should be purchased and where to strategically place them?

  8. Have you established cooperative agreements with hospitals, other hotels, vendors and community organizations to assist you, if there are injuries or your property is damaged?

  9. In the case of an "active shooter" on the property, have you planned for "safe havens" or rooms that can be barricaded to keep threats out or delay their entry?

  10. Is there a company liaison that has been selected to assist law enforcement and emergency services with coordination?

The list can go on and on...

From line staff to executive management, the plan must be embraced by all employees. An emergency and evacuation plan will only prove to be the most value when the employees know how to carry it out. New employee orientation can be the starting point and further skills can be improved by including tabletop exercises as well as actual drills which should be practiced three to four times per year. This will ensure that employees are confident in the plan and know the location of emergency equipment, fire doors and the safest routes to get out.

No two plans are the same as the critical details of each property or business will vary. The development of and re-writing of emergency and evacuation plans can be a daunting task. If your organization is not prepared to do this, it makes sense to hire an outside expert or consultant who can be objective and assist you in designing a plan that is tailored specifically to your company, employees, guests and corporate culture.

Philip Farina, CPP

Farina and Associates, Ltd.


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