Many well intentioned people recognize the need to have some type of pre-planning for disasters. When I speak to them they assure me “We have that covered.” They typically describe some emergency procedures or a basic continuity plan that serves as their planning in total.
I am often asked “what is the difference between an emergency plan and a continuity plan?” These types of plans represent the two halves of the emergency preparation package. Every organization needs both. The greater the complexity and size of an organization the greater is the need for both type of plans. Emergency and continuity plans are unique and yet should be designed to support each other during a disaster or emergency.
Emergency plans involve what you will do during an emergency. They should include policies and procedures for emergencies, information that will be needed during the event, and pre-organized logistics to support emergency operations. They provide your organization and community a game plan that can be followed to insure survival during an emergency.
The key to emergency planning is developing a common framework for all emergencies. This decreases the difficulty of training. Your team members understand priorities and procedures which will be common during every disaster and emergency. This allows you to focus on the unique contingencies of the disaster at hand instead of trying to organize your response from “A-Z” while your ceiling tiles are still falling.
Continuity plans are designed to support the transition from response to recovery. They include policies and procedures for operations during the aftermath of an emergency or disaster. These policies and procedures are based on specific requirements to maintain basic operations needed for organizational survival.
The first step in continuity planning is understanding how your organization works. What are your key functions and what processes must continue for your organization to survive? There must be a clear understanding of what you do and how you these processes work. The continuity plan should focus on what it will take to keep this part of your organization functioning until recovery can begin.
Many people and organizations operate on the “sun is shining today so it will always be shining.” Studies of the 1987 Whittier Narrows and 1994 Northridge earthquake revealed that most businesses without emergency or continuity plans did not survive six months after the disaster. If you have questions about how to get started contact me at Roger@nulllecmgt.com.