How to Make an Emergency Response Plan for Your Office

Business Emergency Plan

6 Steps to Creating an Effective Emergency Action Plan

To help ensure the safety and well-being of your employees, take the time to develop a comprehensive emergency response plan. A detailed and well-executed emergency action plan (EAP) can save lives.

The actions taken during the first few moments of an emergency are critical. A prompt, well-orchestrated warning can communicate to your employees whether they should evacuate, seek shelter, shelter-in-place, or commence lockdown. Clear warnings coupled with a keen understanding of your EAP can empower your employees to streamline evacuations or lockdowns, offer bystander assistance, and can even help 911 dispatchers and emergency services respond to events more efficiently.

Step 1: Assemble Your Team

The strength of your EAP depends on the commitment of your team. Seek out the participation of your employees — both management and employees — early in the process so that everyone has a say.

Step 2: Conduct a Risk Assessment

Conduct a risk assessment to identify potential hazards and vulnerabilities within your organization. People should always be your first consideration in a risk assessment, but risks to physical assets (buildings, computer systems, machinery, finished products) and the environment should also be included in your assessment.

“As you conduct the risk assessment, look for vulnerabilities—weaknesses—that would make an asset more susceptible to damage from a hazard. Vulnerabilities include deficiencies in building construction, process systems, security, protection systems, and loss prevention programs. They contribute to the severity of damage when an incident occurs. For example, a building without a fire sprinkler system could burn to the ground while a building with a properly designed, installed, and maintained fire sprinkler system would suffer limited fire damage” (Department of Homeland Security).

Step 3: Establish Performance Objectives

Keep yourself on track and accountable. Performance objectives are quantifiable and tangible milestones that you’ll achieve as you develop your emergency preparedness program. Be sure to create objectives for all aspects of your program. Ready.gov, the U.S. Government’s disaster preparedness website, recommends a number of performance objectives. Here are a few of the key recommendations:

  • Reach out to public emergency services and regulators.
  • Conduct a business impact analysis (in addition to your risk assessment) to identify the operational and financial impacts from an interruption or disruption of your business.
  • Identify opportunities for hazard prevention and risk mitigation.
  • Protect the safety of your employees by developing evacuation, sheltering and lockdown plans.
  • Conduct employee training and drills.
  • Install an emergency generator to power the data center during a power outage.
  • Install a fire sprinkler system.
  • Phase out the use of highly toxic or flammable chemicals.
  • Build a culture of preparedness in the workplace and encourage employees to have a plan at home.

Step 4: Create a Written Policy

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers a wealth of information about developing an EAP. While the size and scope of your plan will vary based on the size of your company and your industry, OSHA’s minimum requirements suggest that your plan should include the following elements:

  • Means of reporting fires and other emergencies.
  • Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments.
  • Procedures for employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate.
  • Accounting for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed.
  • Rescue and medical duties for employees performing them.
  • Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted in case of an emergency.

FEMA also offers a detailed Emergency Response Plan template to help businesses identify goals and objectives and define exactly what it is an emergency response team needs to do during an emergency.

Step 5: Develop an On-Site Emergency Response Team

Designate cool-headed and well-respected emergency response leaders within your organization to lead evacuation (as necessary), coordinate communication, conduct a head count, and to communicate detailed information to 911 dispatch and emergency responders. These team members should also be responsible for making sure that minors, disabled employees, or at-risk residents are safely sheltered or evacuated.

Step 6: Offer Training

Once you’ve identified your emergency response team, it’s up to you to make sure they have the training they need to perform their duties effectively. For an EAP to be effective and to ensure the safety of your employees, you’ll need individuals who can be relied on to respond calmly in an emergency.

Build confidence by offering first aid, Stop the Bleed, CPR, and AED training to your entire team. All emergency response team leaders should be required to complete their certifications.

For more information on First Aid and CPR training, check out these articles:

Step 7: Practice and Review Your Emergency Action Plan

“Educate your employees about the types of emergencies that may occur and train them in the proper course of action. The size of your workplace and workforce, processes used, materials handled, and the availability of onsite or outside resources will determine your training requirements. Be sure all employees understand the function and elements of your emergency action plan, including types of potential emergencies, reporting procedures, alarm systems, evacuation plans, and shutdown procedures. Discuss any special hazards you may have onsite such as flammable materials, toxic chemicals, radioactive sources, or water-reactive substances” (OSHA).

Emergency response plans can help prevent injury and can dramatically minimize damage. However, it’s important to remember that your EAP is only as good as the people who are carrying it out. Every six months, conduct emergency drills and schedule a one-on-one with your in-house ERT members to make sure they’re still up for the job.

To learn more about First Aid and CPR Certification and AED training, AED best practices, AED and defibrillator service and preventative maintenance programs, or LifeShield, our online compliance management program, contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362 or email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

AED Use on Infants and Children

Can you use an adult AED on an infant or small child?

In a word, YES! Although AEDs are manufactured with adults in mind, pediatric settings and pads adjust the energy level used, making them safe for young children who weigh less than 55 pounds. The American Heart Association recommends that pediatric attenuated pads should be used on children under the age of eight and on infants. Adult pads are used on children eight years and older.

However, the Journal of Pediatric Emergency Care notes that “In the absence of prompt defibrillation for ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia, survival is unlikely. Automated external defibrillators should be used in infants with suspected cardiac arrest, if a manual defibrillator with a trained rescuer is not immediately available. Automated external defibrillators that attenuate the energy dose (eg, via application of pediatric pads) are recommended for infants. If an AED with pediatric pads is not available, the AED with adult pads should be used.”

We think this bears repeating: if infant or pediatric settings and pads are not available, rescuers may use adult pads on infants and young children. Apply one pad to the front of the chest and the other to the child’s back so that the pads do not come into contact with one another.

Once the pads are attached, follow the instructions given by the AED.

Remember, without prompt treatment (CPR and defibrillation), sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is always fatal. If you have an AED and you suspect that a child or infant is in cardiac arrest, use it!

All AEDs are designed to analyze a victim’s heart rhythm regardless of age, and if a shockable rhythm is detected, the device will prompt the rescuer to administer an electric shock. Some devices will administer shocks automatically. An AED will not advise or deliver a shock unless the victim’s heart rhythm is in one of two shockable rhythms. You cannot accidentally shock someone with an AED.

How Do You Recognize Pediatric AED Pads?

Pediatric electrode pads are typically smaller and feature a different color packaging than adult pads. Generally speaking, the instructions and pad placement illustrations will depict a small child or infant. If your AED requires a child/infant key, the key will likely have an illustration on it showing the proper placement of the adult AED electrode pads for use on a child or infant.

How Common is Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Children?

Thankfully, SCA is fairly uncommon in children. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “Although SCA is rare in children, it can affect anyone, even those who are physically fit. Each year, SCA claims the lives of over 2,000 children and adolescents in the U.S. and accounts for approximately 3-5% of all deaths in children aged 5-19 years. It is also responsible for 10-15 percent of sudden unexpected infant deaths.”

The 2015 AHA Heart and Stroke Statistics released by the American Heart Association found that 6,300 Americans under the age of 18 experienced an EMS-assessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). When CPR and AEDs are administered within three to five minutes of cardiac arrest, sudden death can be prevented.

What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People?

Some of the most common causes of sudden cardiac death in young people include:

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

A condition that’s typically inherited, HCM causes the heart muscle cells to enlarge, which then causes the walls of the ventricle (usually the left ventricle) to thicken.

Congenital Abnormalities

Occasionally people are born with unusual or abnormal heart arteries. If this occurs, arteries may become compressed during exercise and not provide adequate blood flow to the heart. Some congenital cardiac abnormalities include Long QT syndrome, atrial septal defects, ventricular septal defects, and Ebstein anomaly.

Commotio Cordis

Commotio cordis is a rare cause of sudden cardiac death that occurs as the result of a blunt blow to the chest. Young athletes are especially susceptible and the average age of athletes who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest is just 17.

How is Infant and Child CPR different than Adult CPR?

Child and infant CPR is different from adult CPR. We strongly urge you to take an AHA-approved CPR and AED certification class. These classes will teach you how to perform adult, child, and infant CPR and how to effectively use an AED.

CPR for children is very similar to adult CPR, however, rescuers should start CPR before calling 911. After two minutes of CPR with rescue breaths, call 911. Because a child’s airway is more fragile than an adult’s, use caution when providing rescue breaths and be careful not to tilt the head back too far. When providing chest compressions, use one or two hands, depending on the size of the child. The depth of compressions should be only one and a half inches. The ratio of compressions to rescue breaths, 30:2, is the same for children as for adults.

It stands to reason that great care should be taken when performing CPR on an infant. Although a baby’s bones are more flexible than an adult’s, they’re also much more delicate. As with older children, you’ll want to begin CPR on an infant before calling 911. Of course, if there’s another person at the scene, ask them to call 911 immediately.

To learn more about our CPR and AED Training or to purchase an AED with pediatric capabilities, visit aed.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

Why is My AED Beeping?

5 Reasons Why Your Beeping AED is Chirping (and what to do about it)!

So you’ve made the wise, wonderful, and potentially life-saving decision to equip your office, home, school, factory, or organization with a highly visible and strategically placed automatic external defibrillator (AED); you’ve thought about the Reasons Why AED Compliance Management is Important; and you’ve invested in an AED compliance management program. Maybe you’ve even taken the plunge and have your First Aid, CPR, and AED certifications in your back pocket — good for you!

But now your AED is beeping! Why?!

Don’t worry, it’s actually a good thing. Most AEDs run daily self-tests to ensure that, in the event of an emergency, they are  ready to save lives. The beeping is just a gentle reminder to make sure your investment in safety is ready to work when you really need it.

Here are the 5 most common reasons your AED is beeping:

  • AED Pads have expired
  • Pads have been disconnected from the AED
  • AED battery has expired
  • AEDs software needs to be updated
  • A mechanical error has been detected

While some of the causes of these error messages are pretty easy to identify and fix, if your AED is beeping, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to wish you had an AED Preventative Maintenance and Service Plan.

AED Pads Have Expired

You may not realize it, but the pads that come with your AED have a finite shelf life. The pads are what deliver the shock to an individual experiencing a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). So it’s critically important that they’re in tip-top shape. Of course, pads should be replaced after use, but they also have an expiration date.

Why do AED pads expire? To make sure that the pads stick to the skin effectively, each pad is coated with an adhering and conductive gel. Over time, the liquid in the gel may dry out and can prevent the pads from sticking effectively. For example, if the pads pull away from the skin during CPR, the AED may not be able to provide an effective analysis of the heart rhythm to deliver shocks as needed.

AED Pads Have Been Unplugged

Your AED pads should always be kept plugged into the device so they’re ready for use in an emergency. Occasionally, however, pads may be inadvertently disconnected — perhaps you recently decided to move your AED cabinet to a more visible location or the annual hallway repainting was a little more vigorous than usual. In this case, simply reconnect the pads to the device and you’re good to go.

AED Battery is Expired

Even if you’ve been fortunate enough to have left your AED untouched since its installation, its battery life is still limited. When your AED indicates that it’s time to replace the battery, don’t delay. It’s time to order a replacement battery immediately.

AED Software Update Needed

Most manufacturers work diligently to improve existing technology and to develop new technology to ensure optimal performance. The better the technology, the more effective your device will be at saving lives.

The easiest way to install a software update is to contact CardioPartners’ Service and Repair Department.

A Mechanical Error Has Been Detected

Much like Goldilocks, your AED needs to be stored in an environment that’s just right. Take a look at your AED User Manual and make sure that you’re storing your AED in a location with an acceptable temperature range. While your AED is capable of operating during a rescue at extremely hot or cold temperatures, your device should always be stored in a climate-controlled environment.

If your AED is located in a company vehicle, daily travel over rough roads may be enough to jostle pad connections free or set off a mechanical error.

Now’s the time to make sure your AED is ready when you need it. If it’s beeping, odds are you’ll need to do something about it immediately. If the fix is outside of your comfort zone, call a certified AED technician immediately.

While we’re on the subject of AED maintenance, preventative maintenance plans are a painless and affordable way to ensure that your devices are in perfect, shock-ready working order. A preventative maintenance and service plan makes it easy for you to address repairs deemed necessary during routine compliance checks, can minimize potential liability issues, and even helps keep your costs down should repairs be necessary.

To learn more about our AED and defibrillator service and preventative maintenance programs or LifeShield, our online compliance management program, contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4363 or email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.