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Crisis Contingency Planning

Since 9-11, organizations and individuals alike have been taking steps to better protect themselves in the event of another terrorist incident.  The critical events of the day warn that preparedness must be a constant concern.  But other emergencies are continually in the news.  Fire, storms, accidents, etc. can happen anywhere.  

Companies and employees must plan for any emergency so that businesses can continue to serve their customers, employees are protected, and families are prepared. 

The following are a few basic suggestions to assist you in your contingency planning.



  • Do a risk assessment of your workplace(s); its location relative to potential risks, its vulnerabilities and strengths.


  • Form a risk management team.
  • Create a plan with relevant policies and procedures to deal with multiple emergencies.
  • Inform all personnel of the plan.


  • Practice the procedures laid out in your plan.
  • Do simulations repeatedly.
  • Stick to the scenarios you have planned, but be ready to modify procedures as situations change.
  • Keep people informed.


  • Debrief everyone after a practice exercise to identify problems and or weak spots in your plan.

Lessons Learned After September 11, 2001

Always think about being prepared to act, even if threats don't materialize. The top executive team must be involved with the planning and implementation of policies.

Assign individuals to roles. Clearly define responsibilities for these roles and practice them. Decide who has overall jurisdiction. Consider using visual identification tags, arm bands, etc.

Business continuity planning involves safeguarding your customers. Keep them informed of your plan and ask for their input.

Set up a communications center with faxes, email, portable phones and land line phones. Plan alternative centers as back-ups.

Keep your people informed. Avoid confusing messages. Agree on the wording of announcements and other signaling systems. Use these in practice runs.

Protect property and data, but protect people first. Invite disabled individuals to be on your planning team. They are experts on the assistance they may need in emergencies.

Think and plan in terms of stages of threat - immediate, moderate and distant. Practice on an unscheduled/unannounced basis.

Multi-location work places need a central coordinator as well as an on-site coordinator.

Educate employees about proven survival responses to various kinds of emergencies and accidents - natural as well as man made.

Encourage individuals to prepare an evacuation kit with items such as the following:

  • Low heeled shoes which tie
  • A spare pair of glasses
  • A map of building exits
  • A working flashlight
  • Essential medications
  • A towel or nose mask
  • A spare set of car and house keys
  • A portable phone
  • A wallet with ID cards and money

Practice evacuation using the kit. Discard nonessentials to keep kit easy to store and carry.

Prior Planning for Family Members

Employees should develop a plan now for their family members' safety and successful reunion.

Stay informed. Have a battery-operated radio available. National, state and local authorities will broadcast alerts.

Choose alternative ways to reach children at school or wherever they might be. Practice contacting them in the alternative ways you have chosen.

Select safe places to wait until the family can meet together safely.

Plan a safe haven with water, food and shelter in your workplace, home or community. Provide documents granting permission to those persons you wish to be "temporary" parents or care takers. Hospitals may require documentation for non-parents to obtain medical care for children, the disabled or the elderly.

Consider the use of identification tags, medical tags, and etc. for family members.

Review your plan regularly with everyone in the family and have back-up plans if the need arises.

Written by Helene King, PhD, CEAP
For additional information, please contact us at 202.628.5100 or by e-mail.