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Emergency Plans and Procedures

 What do they mean

All facilities should have an emergency plan and emergency response procedures. For simplicity many choose to combine both into one document as there is some overlap in the goals of both. For ease of reading we will assume your facility has one document and we will refer to it as the Emergency Management Plan and Procedures (EMP). This resource will guide you through understanding the purpose of an EMP and provide assistance if you are currently trying to develop one.

What emergencies does the EMP need to cover?

It is the Emergency Planning Committees (EPC) responsibility to determine which types of emergencies warrant specific emergency response procedures. Some facilities may be located surrounded by bushland and therefore need procedures in place to deal with the threat of bushfire while a similar facility located deep within a fully urbanised environment would not. Lets run through a list of common enough emergencies that you should consider for inclusion

  • Fire - this is a threat at any facility as due to the nature of our environments there is almost always combustible materials and ignition sources present. In some facilities fire may pose a greater risk than others and therefore require more detailed attention than others.

  • Medical emergencies - any facility that contains people has the risk of medical emergencies. and they can be confronting and difficult to plan for. 

  • Security/Violence - ranging from unauthorised entries through to hostage situations,  you need to consider what possible risks does your facility face from unwanted persons and how you will manage them.

  • External threats - Flooding, storms, bushfires and other threats to your facility and its occupants that come as a result of your facilities environment. 

Its important to remember that the EMP needs to cover more than just what to do once an emergency is happening, it needs to cover the prevention, preparation and mitigation processes for the facility. If there are occupants with a disability it also needs to consider them, and the agreed roles and responsibilities of the various positions on the ECO.

Structure of the EMP

The EMP must include, although it is not limited to, the following:

  • a clear statement of the purpose and scope

  • information on the structure and purpose of the EPC

  • identification of the facilities to which it applies

  • descriptions of the fire safety and emergency features of the facility

  • the organisational arrangements for the facility

  • seperate sections for the emergency identification outcomes, the emergency response procedures, the evacuation diagram and training arrangements

  • a statement of the extent of distribution of the emergency plan

  • a record of distribution including where PEEPs for people with disabilities are held (usually held by the relevant warden)

  • details on the hours of occupancy of the facility

  • the EPC nominated validity period for the EMP

  • the date of isssue or amendment date on each page of the emergency plan

Considerations of the emergency response procedures

The emergency response procedures need to outline the responsibilities and duties of the ECO and the actions they are to take during an emergency. 

Communication methods need to be addressed in the EMP, particularly how to warn occupants of the facility and how to communicate between members of the ECO. Its also important to address how communication with neighbouring facilities will be managed as some emergencies may require you to inform them of the situation.

It is also important to consider the potential limitations of chosen methods of communication in emergencies, for example radios need to be kept charged and some systems that rely on mains power may cease to work in certain emergencies.

Control and coordination of the emergency needs to be considered. The procedures should identify an appropriate location from which the chief warden can establish control, communication and coordination as well as liaise with emergency services. An alternative location should also be nominated.

Evacuation options need to be addressed, some facilities may consider using partial evacuations to manage localised emergencies or to prevent congestion. Shelter in place may be a response option if evacuation to an external location could reasonably expose them to greater danger.

Assembly areas should be chosen that are sufficiently distant from the emergency, ideally sheltered from the affected facility and allowing further movement away from the emergency. Consideration needs to be given to dangers such as smoke and flying debris, as well as mobility and access.

Ultimately all emergency plans and procedures are the responsibility of the EPC and the stakeholders in the facility/its occupants. You should always refer back to your facilities EMP if you have any doubts or questions about what it contains. If your facility does not have an EMP then companies like Futura Fire are able to assist in guiding you through the process of developing your own.