In 1978, The Who released a song with a simple question: “Who are you?” Although a great question to ask at a business conference or networking event, it is the last question you want to ask during an emergency.

When a first responder arrives to direct emergency response efforts, emergency management directors, chief security officers and security directors should never have to ask, “Who are you?” If you are asking this question, you likely have not fully prepared for the emergencies or disasters that could impact your business.

Knowing exactly who will be coming to your aid in an emergency signals to your employees and stakeholders that you have an integrated emergency management plan that successfully leverages support from local police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) agencies.

“Tell Me, Who are You?” – Who is Coming to Help

Because most emergencies require the assistance of first responders, being aware of who specifically will respond to your business should be at the forefront of your emergency preparedness program. When writing an emergency plan, ask yourself three key questions:

  1. What is the title and rank of the first officer the police, fire or EMS department will send to your business?
  2. What is the title and rank of the superior officer who will arrive to assume overall command of the situation (i.e., the incident commander)?
  3. What resources will this individual bring to your place of business?

“There’s Got to be Another Way” – How Can You Best Prepare for an Emergency

Once you have answered these three questions, an emergency management director or security director can take the following actions:

  • Invite representatives from local and state first responder agencies to your business. Give them with a tour of your facility and share with them your incident response plans, protocols and procedures.
  • Incorporate into your emergency management plans the title, rank and contact information of the local police, fire and EMS personnel who will arrive on site to lead emergency response operations.
  • Discuss with local first responder leadership how long it will take them to arrive on site and what resources they have available to assist with response and recovery operations.
  • Host a tabletop exercise to discuss the transfer of command from the company’s designated incident commander to the local police, fire or EMS incident commander.
  • Host a drill that evaluates how long it will take local police, fire or EMS to arrive on site.
  • Invite local first responders to serve as subject matter experts at your security and emergency management meetings and training sessions.

“Cause I Really Want to Know” – The Importance of Being Prepared

When you write or update your emergency plans, make sure you can always answer The Who’s famous question. Knowing who and when someone is coming to help during an emergency can save time, resources and, hopefully, lives.