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Facilities Managers Focus: Developing Emergency Preparedness Plans

Efforts toward emergency preparedness have increased substantially, particularly since 9/11. Facility managers must be ready for anything from bomb threats to flooding, labor strikes, workplace violence, etc. Facility managers must have emergency response management plans to ensure the safety of their employees, visitors, and physical assets. Such plans help mitigate the impact of unforeseen events such as natural disasters, accidents, or security breaches. They are designed to guide and direct employees during emergencies and outline the procedures for responding to threats. How to create an emergency response management plan? Read on to discover how!

These are the four things Facilities Managers should focus on when developing an Emergency Preparedness Plan

In this blog, we discuss Facility Management Emergency Preparedness and the 4 phases of emergency management to consider when developing an Emergency Response Management (ERM) Program and preparing the FM department and the organization for unexpected events.

  1. Prevention-Mitigation
  2. Preparedness
  3. Response
  4. Recovery

These phases are highly interconnected, and each phase impacts the others. As a whole, the ERM cycle is an ongoing process that is dynamic and requires continuous review.

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What is Emergency Response Management?

ERM, or Emergency Response Management, is typically a group of documented procedures that explain how the FM team should respond depending on the situation. In general, a plan will include checklists for categorizing potential emergencies, identifying and determining how resources will be used, and establishing training that provides for preparing, rehearsing, and testing these plans.

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Prevention and Mitigation is the first phase in emergency management. Prevention is the action taken to decrease the likelihood of an event or crisis. Mitigation is the action taken to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and physical asset damage related to an event or situation, particularly those that cannot be prevented.


The hazards the FM department should seek to prevent, diminish, or mitigate can be defined more specifically through hazard identification and risk assessment. A risk assessment is a process whereby facility managers can more thoroughly understand and identify potential threats, the current level of preparedness, and the required improvements.

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Three essential elements make up the basis of an emergency response plan. These evaluations can be performed using research, surveys, testing stages, and other methods. There are three primary reasons to carry out a comprehensive risk evaluation:

  • Evaluate any possible threats and dangers.
  • Identify flaws and any ramifications of those threats.
  • Document and report the risk assessment findings and provide suggestions for next steps.

After identifying potential risk scenarios during the Mitigation-Prevention phase and conducting and evaluating the risk assessment, FM teams can develop a comprehensive emergency response plan to address these potential hazards and risks.


Preparedness refers to plans or procedures to minimize damage to physical assets and save lives during an emergency. Planning and training are the essential elements of the preparedness phase. These methods ensure your organization's emergency personnel and FM teams can best respond to a disaster.


The Preparedness phase is meant to design and test strategies, processes, and protocols to prepare the organization for potential emergencies. Preparedness activities include:

  • Establish an incident command system consistent with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to organize your organization's personnel and services to respond in tandem during an emergency.
  • Develop all hazard policies, procedures, and protocols in collaboration with key stakeholders outside your organization, such as law enforcement, medical services, public health, and fire services.
  • Negotiate contracts to provide your organization with essential resources such as food, transportation, medical services, and volunteers.
  • Assign personnel to manage each function of the incident command system and define lines of succession in the emergency plan regarding who is responsible if critical leaders are unavailable.


The response phase refers to the plans and efforts made safely to the event. Emergency response plans should be a collaborative idea developed by a single individual or group. Putting together a team of subject matter experts from different departments helps determine the plan's overall span.


Clear communication is crucial in every emergency. This will enable those at the top of the chain of command to communicate with everyone in the facility regarding the situation and the appropriate action to take.

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Further, the response plan should be reviewed annually, and the FM team should inform building users about what to expect.


Recovery is generally an ongoing process. The type and breadth of recovery activities will vary depending on the nature and scope of the emergency.


However, the goal of the recovery phase is to restore and reestablish normal operations to ensure business continuity. Essential areas to consider include:

  • Determine critical personnel leadership as well as orders of succession
  • Identify your organization's most critical services and technologies to ensure business continuity.
  • Define and document essential service continuity strategies for common disruptions.

Emergency Response Management

In considering these 4 phases when developing an Emergency Response Management (ERM) Program and preparing the FM department and the organization for unexpected events, your FM team will be well on its way to ensuring your organization's safety.

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From routine issues to significant crises, the unexpected happens occasionally. Occasionally, a minor repair is needed on a machine or system that can wait until tomorrow. However, other times, an emergency such as a natural disaster becomes a threat within hours, putting your facilities, physical assets, and occupants in immediate danger.

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In the event of an emergency, having updated information that is easily accessible is essential to successfully managing the situation. Using a safety solution designed to give you instant access to the information you need, such as safety manuals and protocols, can help your organization respond quickly and maintain business continuity even in the face of an emergency.

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Emergency Response Management is a crucial aspect of any disaster management plan. Whether it's a natural calamity, a terrorist attack, or a public health emergency, having an effective emergency response plan can save lives and minimize damages. At its core, Emergency Response Management is about ensuring the safety of people and property during a crisis. This blog will explore the critical elements of an emergency response plan, the steps involved in creating one, and the best practices for implementing it. Read on to learn how to prepare yourself and your organization for emergencies.