John looked out across the lobby at the growing crowd. Mondays were always busy, but the crowd seemed larger than usual today. Because of the storms on the horizon, no one was waiting on the front sidewalk. His phone buzzed, and he saw a notification from his weather app. At the same time, he heard a warning from the National Weather Service on the radio. A tornado had been spotted in their area and was moving towards them. As he looked past the crowd through the lobby doors, he could already see small limbs and trash being blown across the parking lot. John could tell that the crowd was nervous. What would you do?
All businesses and organizations should have an emergency action plan or a critical incident plan that is used for quick responses to specific situations such as fire, severe weather, medical emergencies, and other natural or manmade incidents. Organizations that make sure that employees are familiar with the plan and have completed drills are well prepared. The third component of this process addresses people who are not part of the employee population, such as students at school, patrons of a library, customers in a store, or end-users of government services.
- The first step is to consider visitors in the emergency plan and to include their actions in the response.
- The individual or team designated as the “authority” in command of the situation should be familiar with all components of the plan, including the plan for visitors.
- There should be some way to communicate with all visitors, whether face-to-face or via mass communication, and this method will vary based on the way visitors typically interact with employees at the facility.
- Signage or other guiding information should be used as appropriate in addition to the standard signage for fire exits.
- The emergency action plan should provide a way to account for all visitors, whether the building is evacuated or personnel shelter in place.
- Depending on the specific visitor population and the normal operations of the organization, other factors may need to be considered.
For organizations with a small visitor population, emergency response planning is important. For organizations with a large visitor population, planning is critical.
The staff at RMA would like to express our admiration of Lowe’s Home Improvement and the employees in Sanford, NC. Although the store was destroyed in the tornado that struck Sanford, no customers or employees were killed or suffered serious injuries. Lives were saved as a result of prepared and trained employees putting an emergency response plan into motion.
Plan. Protect. Prosper.
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