The first few moments in a fire emergency – when alert systems and suppression equipment are triggered – can be the difference between a safe evacuation and tragedy.
During an emergency, people often experience panic and confusion. It’s only natural that we struggle to think clearly during disasters or stressful situations.
However, in order to manage the situation, emergency services and fire wardens require clear, concise information. Effective communication in a crisis is difficult, which is where an emergency evacuation plan can come in handy in a variety of ways:
- Defining the chain of command
- Including important contact information
- Walking through the response procedures
- Procedures for resolving workplace conflicts
This information is invaluable for both affected employees and first responders. Here are five more tips for crisis communication.
1. In an emergency evacuation plan, identify key personnel.
When emergency services arrive, there is little time to look for the point-person. Include the following key contact information and details in your emergency evacuation plan, including telephone number, role in an emergency, and schedule.
2. Prepare information that the fire department will require.
Consider how an outsider might interpret the information when creating an emergency evacuation plan. Is there too much extraneous detail? Is the chain of command obvious? Is it simple to obtain time-sensitive information? That way, when emergency services arrive, they can get right to work on safely resolving the situation
3. Maintain staff communication
Getting ready for an evacuation
Every employee should be aware of emergency evacuation procedures. The hope is that they will never have to carry out the plan. In an emergency, however, this familiarity can save time and lead to a better outcome.
During an emergency evacuation
Panic and perplexity are common. People are constantly looking for answers, and when information is scarce, they may fill in the gaps themselves.
Communicate clearly and empathically with employees to ensure they are kept up to date as new information becomes available. This will keep rumors from causing panic.
4. Communicate with the media
A significant evacuation can sometimes attract media attention. If members of the media arrive on the scene, they must be kept safe by following the same evacuation procedures as staff.
It then pays to be prepared when dealing with the media:
- Make a decision on a spokesperson ahead of time.
- Prepare them for crisis communication.
- Maintain a clear, consistent, and true message.
- Never make up details.
- In evolving emergencies, keep personal privacy in mind.
- Keep an eye on messaging to catch any errors.
5. Resolve the emergency
If you followed the emergency evacuation procedure and the steps outlined above, you should be able to safely exit the situation. When the fire department, building management, or another competent person gives the all-clear, the responsible person must communicate the next steps to staff.
The panic will have subsided by this point, and the staff may be restless. Be clear about your expectations and refer to pre-planned re-entry procedures. Outl
ining clear procedures in an emergency evacuation plan is the saving grace once again.
Need help drafting an emergency evacuation plan?
Do you know where to begin with your emergency evacuation plan? Contact our fire experts at Control Fire Protection for help.
We can assist you in developing a comprehensive emergency evacuation plan that includes everything you need to navigate emergencies safely and without panic, based on our track record and partnership approach to fire safety.