A Fresh Look at Your Emergency Contacts

An emergency contacts list is one of the most basic components of an Incident Management Program and is often the most updated.  Having current phone numbers and other contact information is critical during a crisis.  However, who is included in the emergency contacts can be as critical as having the most up to date contact information.  Plus, the technology redundancy you have to communicate with these contacts is equally important.

The primary goal of an organization’s incident management program is to protect life safety, property, reputation, and the ability to continue operations.  Having immediate access to the right emergency contact information during an incident can tip the balance between an effective response followed by a resilient recovery and a poor response with a slow recovery. 

So what can business managers do to make sure that the right people are included in their organization’s emergency contacts? 

Step 1.  Identify Critical Relationships

First, look at who and what organizations might be critical to include in your emergency contacts.  Critical people and organizations come under three categories:  (1) those people and organizations that have goods and services that your organizations needs; (2) people within the organization; and (3) those people and organizations that need goods and services that your organization has. Once you know what people and organizations to include in your emergency contacts, you may decide to group them by type (e.g., first responders, local, state and federal officials; utilities; non-profit organizations; professional services; customers/clients, etc…)

Network of Critical Relationships

Emergency Preparedness

Step 2.  Policy and Procedure for Using Emergency Contacts

Next, create a policy and procedure for who authorizes your organization to reach out to emergency contact groups during an incident; who creates and approves of the message; and who initiates the communication.

Step 3.  Immediate Access to Information

In this information age, technology provides many tools to give us immediate access to information.  Whether your organization has an emergency notification system or relies primarily on a hard copy list; make sure that the people who are responsible to initiate communications (e.g., notify, request assistance, etc…) are provided with immediate access to the emergency contact information.

Step 4.  Keep Emergency Contact Information Up-To-Date

Assign someone the responsibility to keep emergency contact information up-to-date on a regular basis.  It is a best practice to update emergency contact information quarterly, at a minimum, and whenever changes occur that significantly affect the accuracy of the information.