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Crisis & Emergency and their Preparedness

Crisis, as we all know, is a time of great danger or difficulty. It is a situation that is extremely difficult or dangerous when there are many problems. Crises are usually categorized as being either situational or maturational. Situational crises involve unexpected event that is usually beyond the individual's control. Examples of situational crises include natural, manmade and accidental disasters.

Crisis is a contingency situation, which is nothing but a potential occurrence of a negative event in the future. In 2020, businesses were hit by the coronavirus pandemic forcing many organizations to work with skeleton staff resulting in dealing with contingency inappropriately.

Crisis, if not acted on time, may get turned into an emergency situation but a "Real emergency" comes when you are "not prepared" for it. In our personal life how many of us are "prepared" to handle a situation of "losing our wallet with important documents" (like Aadhar PAN Card copies, credit/debit cards)? Hence, when such things happen, it is an emergency for us. In an industrial scenario, an emergency is either one or multiple failures of single or multiple processes which may have cascading effects and can cause harm to life, property, and the environment.

Emergency Response Planning shall be developed to handle the situation irrespective of the nature of the crisis - Creeping or Slow-Burn or Sudden.

A contingency plan is sometimes referred to as "Plan B" or a backup plan because it can also be used as an alternative action if expected results fail to materialize. Contingency planning is a component of business continuity (BC), disaster recovery (DR), and risk management (RM).

A single contingency can be dealt with, appropriately, with some discipline and planning. However, a hazardous environment makes it a multiple-contingency situation. It is experienced that dealing with multiple contingency situations presents problems, with difficulties of varying degrees and types, sometimes reaching the level of a “hopeless situation”.

Preparedness for an emergency will call for a few Pre-emptive steps, as mentioned below:

  • Ensure Safe Design Consideration and plant Layout;

  • Tune up the rescue and crisis management to changes in site and in operational areas;

  • Ensure Regulatory compliance for all areas of business;

  • Operate within design parameters advised by the manufacturer;

  • Instill good Operation and maintenance practices, and safety awareness;

  • Plan and practice Disaster Management through a Disciplined approach;

  • Prepare the crisis management group to tackle single contingency as well as multiple contingencies;

  • Ensure healthiness and availability of all crisis-fighting tools at all times. Upgrade them as required;

  • Know the areas well, Update the plans, Maps and have them easily accessible;

  • Implement a foolproof safety tagging and work permit system.

There is a very close relationship between Risk Management and Crisis Management as mentioned in the sketch below:

Relationship between Risk Management and Crisis Management
Relationship between Risk Management and Crisis Management

We will need a robust Emergency Preparedness Plan to counter the contingencies.

The basic requirements of an Emergency Preparedness Plan may be any of the followings:

  • Owner’s commitment

  • Employee awareness

  • Availability of appropriate tools and tackles

  • Regular safety drills

  • All in combination

  • Something else

All these may prepare us to safely handle crises in hazardous environments.

The four phases of emergency management are mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

The Elements of Successful Emergency Action Planning are as follows:

  1. Consider the situations

  2. Determine the correct actions

  3. Create rally points

  4. Verify safe routes

  5. Account for everyone

  6. Drill (or not)

  7. Keep reviewing

I hope this small blog will help you to prepare yourself for emergencies.

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