After the evacuation – what staff need to know

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Employees don’t have the same communication needs as first responders, but after an emergency, they are likely to have the following questions. Whether it is part of the emergency response plan or the BCP, having a plan to answer them is the first step in effective communications after a crisis.

Where Do I Go for Information?
In the initial phases of a disaster, it might make sense to have employees stay at the safe location that has already been established as an evacuation checkpoint. If everyone who does not have a response role remains at these assembly areas, it facilitates the sharing of information and helps ensure that the messages shared with employees are consistent.

Pre-planning the phone numbers, websites, meeting location, or whatever other information employees may need to know following a disaster allows the information to be printed on cards or papers that can be handed out so that it is easier for everyone to remember and follow the instructions after they leave the facility. This also prevents employees from calling departments or supervisors who may not have the information that they need to know.

Who Is in Charge?
At a minimum, all emergency first responders (police, fire, and medical services) have at least a basic understanding of Incident Command Systems (ICS). This allows them to coordinate their efforts and objectives with other responders at large incidents and provides a framework for the overall response.

Having a BCP or recovery plan helps to present a realistic picture of both the resources and time that will be needed to restart operations. It also outlines what needs to happen in the interim so that individuals will know if schedules need to be shifted, as well as when and where they should report to work.

Where can I get help?
Emergencies are emotional events. They can be overwhelming for employees who are involved in the incident, as well as their families. Sometimes people need help to recognize how an incident is affecting them. Other times, they know that they need help but aren’t sure how or where to go to get it.

Facilities with Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) may already have the capability of having counselors ready and available after an incident. Facilities without EAPs may be able to coordinate these resources in advance through non-profit organizations, such as the Red Cross or community-based mental health organizations.