The following is an excerpt from “Before and After Disaster Strikes,” by Debbie and Dave Mistick. This publication will be available from the IREM bookstore shortly.

Assembling an emergency management team is critical to emergency planning, as the emergency management team will be called upon to carry out your property’s emergency procedures plan.

When putting together your team, follow these steps:

Establish duties team members

Each team member should be assigned and trained on specific duties, which should be explained in the property’s emergency procedures manual. Remember that not all team members will be available when an emergency arises, so each person should understand the entire emergency plan.

A team leader should be identified. The team leader will direct the actions of the entire team and will need to know what actions to take for each type of emergency, including what tasks need to be assigned to various team members. During an emergency, all communications should flow from the leader.

Train the team

After the emergency procedures for the property have been written and the team has been assembled, train the team to carry out the plan.

Firstly, take your team on a property tour. While touring, focus on the following features prominent in emergencies:

• Overall layout of the property

• Configuration of individual floors

• Location of stairwells, entrances and exits

• Roof and basement access

• Mechanical equipment

• Emergency equipment

• Stored chemicals and hazardous waste which are listed on the material safety data sheet (MSDS)

• Location of essential keys

• Telephones and other communications equipment

• Life-safety equipment

Invite representatives of the fire and police departments to participate. Training should also be provided on specific emergency procedures—that is, how some procedures, including evacuation, may differ because of the type of emergency.

Conduct Practice Drills

Scheduling practice drills enables the team members to instinctively respond to emergencies and builds confidence within the emergency management team and among the building’s occupants. To start, practice drills should be announced in advance. Later, the leader can schedule surprise drills to evaluate the team’s performance—separate drills can be scheduled for building occupants and the emergency management team.

Review Drill Performance

Immediately after an emergency drill, the emergency management team should review the team’s performance. Consider the following questions:

• Do members of the emergency management team understand their respective responsibilities?

• Have new team members been adequately trained?

• Are there problem areas and resource shortfalls? If so, they must be identified and addressed.

• Is the plan reflecting structural changes in the facility (including the leased premises)?

• Are photographs, blueprints of the property and other records and documents up to date?

• Are the names, telephone numbers and responsibilities of the team members up to date?

• Does the plan consider ongoing changes in the occupant profile?

Encourage everyone to speak freely. If parts of the plan did not work effectively, the plan should be revised and the staff should be retrained accordingly.