3 R's of emergency Management

Dec 15, 2010

Developing and implementing a comprehensive emergency management program can provide organizations with a structured capability to continue operations in the face of a major emergency or business disruption. A comprehensive emergency management program involves a complete process aimed at reducing loss and protecting assets from all types of hazards through a risk-based program of prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery activities. It provides a roadmap for organizations to sustain good corporate governance, retain the confidence of stakeholders, and manage its reputation in the face of a major emergency. Simply put, an effective emergency management program can prevent an emerging crisis from becoming an organizational and personal disaster.

Emergencies have become more complex, widespread and severe. A natural or human-induced disaster can happen anytime, anywhere. We have seen many examples: pandemics (SARS); power outages (2004 blackout); acts of terrorism; IT & communication system failures; and natural disasters. Any one, or any combination, can suddenly and severely impact an organization, large or small, and the economic consequences can be severe.

All organizations face a certain amount of uncertainty and risk; in the quest to ensure sustainability of operations and maintain resilience and performance, yet they must have an effective system to manage hazards and threats. This approach must include not only the traditional focus on preparedness and response, but also with emphasis on prevention, mitigation, business continuity, and recovery activities. This essential, comprehensive approach to managing emergencies is prescribed in the 2008 CSA (Canadian Standard Association) Z1600 Standard on Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, which was based on the NFPA 1600 Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs standard.

CSA Z1600 outlines the requirements for a comprehensive emergency management program that incorporates a risk-based, all-hazards methodology, integrating emergency management and business continuity programs for a total program approach. This benchmark allows organizations to evaluate or initiate an emergency management and business continuity program that will work for their unique circumstances and requirements.

Already well-received by its key audiences, the CSA Z1600 Technical Committee met in Ottawa in October 2010 to begin work on the 2nd edition. The committee, consisting of first responders, private sector and non-governmental organizations, emergency management and business continuity specialists and all levels of government, will investigate how the standard can be improved. Alignment with government policy initiatives and addressing barriers to implementation are key objectives of the Technical Committee’s work. The Committee will also endeavour to identify and review relevant domestic, regional and international EMBC standards, guidelines and best practices to determine how to build additional value and acceptance for the Z1600 standard.  

Ron Meyers is a Project Manager for the Occupational Health and Safety Program, with the Canadian Standards Association. Ron’s current responsibility includes the development of Canadian National Standards and information products in the areas of emergency management and protective equipment and systems.
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