Using an Integrated Contingency Plan to Improve Emergency Preparedness
Emergency preparedness is a tricky concept. Even for those organizations that put significant time and effort into preparing for crises, true preparedness is a moving target, requiring continual attention to ensure that the business is ready for anything.
Unfortunately, many organizations are not prepared for potential emergencies. In fact, according to the Business Continuity Institute’s Emergency Communications Report 2016, 62 percent of respondents are not confident about their preparedness for a location-specific security incident, such as workplace violence or an act of terrorism.
If your organization currently falls under the “not prepared” column, it’s important to act quickly to fix the problem. For many, implementing an integrated contingency plan may be the answer for improving emergency preparedness, both now and over time.
Integrated Contingency Plan Basics
An integrated contingency plan (ICP) is a single, functional emergency response document that unifies and streamlines an organization’s disparate plans.
The idea is that one unified plan helps streamline emergency planning and response, particularly for businesses or agencies that have to comply with multiple federal planning requirements. For many organizations, having one functional emergency response plan is more effective than relying on multiple plans that may become difficult to use or unwieldy in an emergency.
Improving Emergency Preparedness
So how might an ICP improve your organization’s emergency preparedness? Taking the “One Plan” approach bolsters emergency preparedness in a few ways:
Faster emergency response
One of the most important benefits is the opportunity to achieve a faster, more streamlined emergency response. The One Plan approach works particularly well for organizations in the public sector, as they often must deal with multiple, intersecting federal requirements. If they have separate emergency plans, many of the elements wind up overlapping. Sifting through redundant information can become time-consuming—which is not ideal for a crisis.
By taking the One Plan approach, an organization can do away with a lot of unnecessary duplication and complexity. A single plan puts all the relevant information in one place, whether it’s a mobile app or a cloud-based storage platform. This simplifies the process of referencing and using the plan—especially during the tense moments of an emergency—and can save precious time and resources when they are needed most.
Simplified emergency planning
As multiple, disparate plans are streamlined into one unified document, the planning process is also simplified significantly. Your emergency preparedness team would have to work on only one main plan, rather than several overlapping versions. This also reduces the time and effort required to gain approval for the plan, because key stakeholders only need to sign off on one overarching document.
Integrating all emergency planning information into one plan helps achieve greater compliance, because any gaps or inconsistencies are immediately noticeable. If your organization is subject to more than a few federal emergency planning regulations, the One Plan approach allows you to meet key metrics without unnecessary complexity.
In fact, improved compliance is the whole idea behind an ICP. The National Response Team, a group of several government agencies, created the idea of the One Plan in the 1990s. Part of their goal was to help organizations meet disparate federal regulations from the EPA, OSHA, the Department of Transportation, and other agencies in one consolidated plan.
Not surprisingly, streamlining multiple plans into one unified document can help an organization enjoy cost savings. Not only do you save time and resources during the planning and review period, but you also stand to minimize regulatory fees and downtime by ensuring a faster, more effective emergency response. The money saved could be redirected to other key emergency preparedness needs, such as equipment or employees, which in turn helps improve preparedness even more.
Now that you’ve seen some of the potential benefits of an ICP, do you think implementing an integrated contingency plan would benefit your organization?