Arizona State Benefits from Emergency Planning Process
Part 3 of a 3-part article on Facilities Management's role in emergency preparation
While the emergency planning process — and, in turn the organization — benefits from the involvement of maintenance and engineering, the university’s facilities management department also benefits from its role. One upside is the perspective the department’s personnel get in gathering information used in emergency planning.
“As requests for information filter down to the shop supervisors and middle management level, it’s an educational process for them,” Pretzman says. “They grow by learning about the issues they need to be aware of to put together an effort like this.”
“Working with Allen and his people gives us the perspective that we need to be able to answer their questions. Working with them, we begin to understand the issues they are trying to solve, and by doing that we can edit our response to them, so to speak, and focus on the information they really need to be more effective in their planning.
“Whether it’s a question about emergency power or some other issue in a given building or situation, by working with them, we understand a little bit more about what they need to do and how our piece relates to their overall planning effort.”
Involvement in emergency planning also offers Pretzman the opportunity to reassess the department’s own processes and procedures.
“Being part of this process forces us to ask questions about our systems, and those are very pertinent questions for us in our day-to-day operations,” he says. “It is a benefit to facilities management, and I think it helps both sides of the equation.”
The benefits to the organization of the department’s role in emergency planning come when a crisis occurs.
“We recently had a flood from a main break in a building that contains some of our critical infrastructure,” Clark says. “Facilities management was not only helpful in getting the water out, but as far as the continuity of operations planning and relocation planning, facilities management also helps departments find locations to move to so they can maintain their operations.”
The key to successful participation of maintenance and engineering in emergency response planning is early involvement.
“First and most importantly, invite them to the table before the incident or event happens,” Clark says. “I recognize this seems elementary, but often times, we activate a center and have little or no understanding of those assembled with us. Emergency management is highly dependent on relationships, and we must build and foster those before we act.”