External Communications in an Emergency

Security officers can provide a valuable service in a facility’s overall emergency preparedness plan. Generally, security personnel will play an active, key role in an emergency situation. Security officers may be called upon to notify local emergency services, assist in the evacuation of personnel, render first-aid to injured employees, announce emergency instructions over the public-address system or be required to assume primary responsibility for initiating the emergency response in certain situations.

Overview of the Emergency Response Plan

In planning any response to an emergency, identifying the objectives of the plan must be done first. Generally, the overall objectives of any emergency plan are to:

  1. Protect the lives of all employees, visitors, and nearby residents of the facility.
  2. Protect all property and physical assets be­longing to the organization.
  3. Prevent disruption in the daily operation of the business as much as possible and to re­store the daily routine as soon as possible.
  4. Provide outside agencies, such as local police and fire departments, with information and resources that allow them to carry out their duties and responsibilities without delay.


Security Responsibilities

Generally, security personnel will have primary responsibility for initiating the emergency evacuation and contacting 9-1-1 emergency personnel. In addition, security personnel will often be asked to monitor emergency notification equipment, direct emergency services personnel to the specific location of the incident, account for the number of employees and visitors who have evacuated the facility and have since moved to “safe-sites”, and maintain proper access control.

Additional Responsibilities

The following information should be detailed in writing as part of the emergency response plan:

  1. Who will make the determination to evacuate the facility?
  2. Who is responsible for communicating and answering questions of television, radio, and newspaper media personnel who respond to the facility? Will these individuals be segregated into one area or room until a company spokesperson addresses their questions, or will they have to remain off the facility’s property?
  3. Who is responsible for notifying company officials who are not present? Is an emergency telephone call list up to date and easily accessible within the post orders?
  4. Has the local fire department recently toured the facility? Have maps and diagrams of the location of hazardous, flammable and combustible material been given to them? Are copies of these maps contained in the post orders?
  5. Who is responsible for testing the plan by conducting drills? Who does security need to report to during an emergency? Who can answer questions?
  6. Who is responsible for writing the final report of an emergency?
  7. Who is responsible for conducting follow-up on the items which need to be addressed after a drill or actual emergency?
  8. If an employee or visitor is seriously injured, what procedures are to be followed regarding communication of this fact? Who notifies next of kin?

Security officers who are extremely diligent during their patrols of a facility will learn all of the various nuances of a building so that if an emergency occurs, he/she will feel confident that they know where to respond and how to escort emergency services personnel to the scene. Imagine if an emergency occurred today at the facility where you currently work–are you confident that you would know what to do and know who to contact?

Security personnel who are readily knowledgeable of their post orders and emergency plans and who know the “ins and outs” of the building he/she protects will perform their duties in a professional and time-efficient manner in an emergency.