Immediate Responders Can Provide Swift Response to Crisis

  September 13, 2011

This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management. Today's tip is to set up a system of immediate response to a crisis.

Whether they are police, firefighters or emergency medical service personnel, first responders are the ones who arrive at a crisis scene to provide emergency assistance and protection. But as important as they are, first responders are not the first on the scene. Someone has to call them, and it will be several minutes or longer before they can reach the site. What's more, there are the rare horror stories of 911 dispatchers sending rescue units to the wrong address or responders taking an inordinate amount of time to arrive.

The question that facility managers have to face is this: Is it acceptable to wait for first responders to arrive, or should there be a plan for immediate response to a wide variety of emergencies?

More and more, that question is being answered with the recognition that immediate response and action are crucial to save lives.

For facility managers, that means developing a plan that empowers in-house personnel to make a conscious decision to do something, rather than waiting for someone else to tell them what to do or corroborate the need for action.

Facility managers should ask themselves: What other incidents occur that usually are over within the first three minutes before the first responders arrive? What they have in common is that a crisis occurs that has significant impact on the facility in a very quick timeframe with no build up or preparation. For example, in a bombing, police and firefighters would race to the scene and might soon arrive in overwhelming numbers. But the initial response would still depend on how close a roving patrol is to the site of the explosion. Until those first responders arrived, those on the scene would still be on their own for the first few minutes to assist victims.


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