Best Practices for Better Drills

  January 6, 2015

An emergency response plan on paper and one in motion are not necessarily the same thing. Having a plan in place is essential. But so is testing it by putting the people who will ultimately be involved in executing the plan through its paces. That's where drills come into play.

The first thing to keep in mind during a drill is that mistakes are going to be made. This is fine. The time for mistakes is during the drill so they can be learned from and solved for. The time for mistakes is not when an actual emergency is going on.

During and after a drill, ask for feedback from all parties involved, including the occupants whose only job is to evacuate. Find out what worked and what didn't. Drills afford the luxury of being able to fix a problem before the stakes are more serious.

Even if all is smooth sailing during a drill, don't just keep running the same drill over and over. That will lead to people just going through the motions. Find a way to shake things up, like unexpectedly making an exit route unavailable or have a key person go "missing." Emergencies hardly ever stick to the script, so making participants in the drill think on their feet only makes sense.

In addition to overall drills, training is key for occupants filling specialized roles. In some cases, code may require certain roles to include things such as CPR training. But even beyond that, regular training helps ensure that the people filling these roles are staying sharp and engaged.

One area that might not be already covered in the current emergency response plan but which facility managers might consider adding is training facility occupants on what to do to comfort and support occupants who might be affected by an emergency at the facility. Since first responders will be focused on stabilizing those most seriously injured, thinking about who will attend to the people who have been affected, but are not in critical danger, is something to consider.

For more best practices regarding emergency response planning and drills, read the full article here.


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