Developing a Disaster Preparedness Program

The preparedness program is built on a foundation of management leadership, commitment and financial support. Without management commitment and financial support, it will be difficult to build the program, maintain resources and keep the program up-to-date. A preparedness program is essential to improving your dealership's chance at surviving natural disaster.

Planning

The planning process should consider all hazards. There are many different threats or hazards. The probability that a specific hazard will impact your business is hard to determine. That’s why it’s important to consider many different threats and hazards and the likelihood they will occur.

Strategies for prevention/deterrence and risk mitigation should be developed as part of the planning process. Threats or hazards that are classified as probable and those hazards that could cause injury, property damage, business disruption or environmental impact should be addressed.

In developing your plan, potential hazards should be identified, vulnerabilities assessed and potential impacts analyzed. The risk assessment identifies threats or hazards and opportunities for hazard prevention, deterrence, and risk mitigation. It should also identify scenarios to consider for emergency planning.

A business impact analysis (BIA) identifies time sensitive or critical processes and the financial and operational impacts resulting from disruption of those business processes. The BIA also gathers information about resource requirements to support the time sensitive or critical business processes. This information is useful in making informed decisions regarding investments to offset risks and avoid business disruptions.      

  • Gather information about hazards and assess risks
  • Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA)
  • Examine ways to prevent hazards and reduce risks

Implementation

Implementation of a preparedness program includes identifying and assessing resources, writing plans, developing a system to manage incidents and training employees so they can execute plans. Write a preparedness plan addressing:

  • Resource management
  • Emergency response
  • Crisis communications
  • Business continuity
  • Information technology
  • Employee assistance
  • Incident management
  • Training

Testing and Exercises

You should conduct testing and exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of your preparedness program, make sure employees know what to do and find any missing parts. You may find that there are parts of your preparedness program that will not work in practice.

Testing is necessary to determine whether or not the various parts of the preparedness program will work. Exercising the preparedness program helps to improve the overall strength of the preparedness program and the ability of team members to perform their roles and to carry out their responsibilities. There are several different types of exercises that can help you to evaluate your program and its capability to protect your employees, facilities, business operations, and the environment

  • Test and evaluate your plan
  • Define different types of exercises
  • Learn how to conduct exercises
  • Use exercise results to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan

Program Improvement

There are opportunities for program improvement following an actual incident. A critique should be conducted to assess the response to the incident. Lessons learned from incidents that occur within the community, within the business’ industry or nationally can identify needs for preparedness program changes. Best practices and instructional guidance published by trade associations, professional societies, newsletters and government website can be resources to evaluate and improve your preparedness program.

Gaps and deficiencies identified during reviews should be recorded and addressed through a corrective action program. Reviews, evaluations and improvements should be documented and maintained on file.

  • Identify when the preparedness program needs to be reviewed
  • Discover methods to evaluate the preparedness program
  • Utilize the review to make necessary changes and plan improvements

Your preparedness program should see frequent evaluation over time. As your business changes and evolves, so should your plan. Having a preparedness program in place can help protect your business in a hectic time when your staff looks for leadership and customers look for comfort in consistency.

Source: ready.gov/business

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