Why do so many emergency communications plans fail?

Neil Conchie
August 11, 2021 11:30 AM

Having an emergency communications plan is crucial to dealing with the unexpected in your business or organisation, but what if your plan fails? This is arguably worse than being in an emergency, to begin with. We look at some of the reasons that emergency communications plans fail.

No plan!

Having no plan at all for an emergency is easily the most common reason for failure. If you have not effectively planned for a situation it makes it much more difficult to respond to, and you can find yourself scrabbling to try and come up with a response that is effective and timely which may cause more confusion and impede the progress towards resolving the situation.

Plan for the last situation

It can be tempting to base your emergency response plans on the last emergency that arose in your business, and this is a valid way of planning for emergencies if the same incident is likely to happen again. The problems arise if after the last incident you have put in control measures to stop the same event from happening again – the plan you have is not necessarily going to work for future emergencies.

One-way planning by managers

Whilst plans will need to be instigated and approved by managers, it is vital that during the planning process other members of the team are included in the process as they will often have more system or situation-specific knowledge that management may not have that proves vital to the emergency response.

Incident specific, complex plans

We’re not saying that your emergency communications plans shouldn’t include detail, or be specific to certain situations, but if your plans are very specific to a scenario and include a lot of detail you run the risk of confusing your incident managers or them choosing the wrong plan to try and execute. A good place to start is with the all-hazards approach which will allow you to create plans that are general enough to cover a few emergencies whilst also being specific enough to react.

Not including third parties

Depending on the industry your business or organisation is in, your emergency response may rely on the help of third parties such as hospitals, first responders or industry experts. If your plan doesn’t involve these people, or they don’t know that they are included, you might find a large part of your incident response missing. Ensuring that you have a system in place to contact these people if your chosen solution doesn’t include them is critical.

Not having technology or the wrong technology

Technology is often at the heart of everything that we do in the modern world, so it makes sense that having technology (and the right technology at that) can make or break your incident response. Are you still relying on call trees? Or pagers? Ensuring that you can reach all of your users quickly and easily is a key part of your response to a situation so ensuring that your plan includes technology, especially the right technology, is important.

Are you guilty of any of these emergency planning mistakes? Let us know in the comments or schedule a demo to see how we can help you ensure your emergency communications are the best they can be.