FM Articles

Audit Your Facility’s Emergency Safety Plan


From COVID-19 to the attack on the U.S. Capitol building, this past year has been a stark reminder to all of us that we must be prepared for the unexpected. During this time, many facilities have realized they are unprepared for issues of this magnitude and lack the tools and capabilities they need to meet any situation that may arise. Although a facility may be equipped with a selection of security technologies, that doesn’t mean that it’s ready to handle any situation at any moment. Typically, these systems are siloed and only serve one function. Instead, when these systems are unified, facility operators are able to begin to not just make minor quick-fixes with siloed technology systems but can focus on creating a holistic safety solution that can prepare their facilities for anything.

Ensuring Interoperability
The first step to creating a holistic safety solution for any facility is to unify all existing safety, security, and communication technology onto one platform. This can include door access control, fire and smoke detection, PA systems, desktops, security cameras, motion detectors, and more. When these systems are all integrated onto an automated alerting platform, they are able to communicate with one another, creating interoperability in any facility.

This means that all of these systems can work together simultaneously. For instance, if a door alarm were to be triggered, an alert would automatically be sent to the proper personnel containing detailed information, such as the location and status of the door. And because the door access control system is tied into the same platform as the security cameras, live footage from the camera(s) nearest to the triggered door could be included in the alert. By connecting these systems, the facility can now generate these detailed alerts, so they are able to respond to the situation as quickly and safely as possible.

Planning Ahead
Once a facility’s systems are all integrated onto an automated alerting platform, administrators can begin to leverage their technology to drive their desired outcomes. This means asking questions such as, “What is our biggest concern,” “what slows down our workflow,” and “what can we improve on?” Once these questions are explored and the facility’s goals and outcomes are determined, administration should consider how their technology can be used to best meet these objectives.

So instead of just having a fire alarm system to alert of a fire, what else can be used to address and respond appropriately to the situation? For example, instead of only the alarm sounding, an announcement can automatically play over the PA system with information such as where the alarm went off, this way people can safely avoid that area while evacuating the building. As mentioned earlier, live-video feed can also be attached to alerts sent to phones and desktops. These alerts can go out to all employees, and even directly to first responders so they are able to make informed decisions before they ever even enter the building. These same processes apply whether dealing with a fire, a flood, an intruder, or any other emergency.

And it’s not only emergencies that these safety plans should address. But facility operators should be asking themselves how their technology can work together to improve workflow and daily tasks. For instance, the door access control system can automatically alert a security officer when someone requests to enter the facility. Rather than letting them in manually or needing someone to stay near the doors, that officer can grant access directly from their phone. This allows the security officer to continue doing his/her job patrolling the facility, without wasting time to go let someone in.

Being Adaptable
Although it’s important to plan ahead, it’s also important to be ready for the unexpected. An automated alerting platform and a holistic safety solution allow for exactly that. When the unexpected happens, facility operators are able to contact all of their employees with the click of a few buttons. This kind of mass notification ensures that employees are always informed of what’s going on during an emergency, even ones they haven’t previously prepared themselves for.

During an emergency situation, the most important thing is communication and the access to information. With the ability to send out customizable alerts via text message, phone call, page, email, PA voice message, desktop and phone pop-up, and more, facility operators can rest assured that they can address any situation that may arise.

Training to Succeed
Once the plans have been created, it’s equally important to be able to execute them. To do this, everyone needs proper and thorough training, because even the perfect plan can be useless if staff and responders don’t know what they’re supposed to do. It’s important that all employees are first familiar with the technology and then that they understand how they are expected to use it, including how they will receive alerts and how they can trigger an alert in an emergency.

Once a facility’s employees are familiar with the technology, it’s important that they understand what kind of alerts they will receive and what to do in each of these scenarios. Receiving an alert isn’t enough, it’s the ability to take proper action on that information that will really make a difference. Most of this simply comes down to communication; By communicating the desired goals with their staff, facility operators can ensure they are on the same page and able to respond appropriately to any situation.

It’s also important that employees aren’t only trained once and then left to their own devices. Instead, employees should receive refresher training on a regular basis. It should also be ensured that any new employees are educated on how to use the technology and the facility’s desired outcomes as well.

By implementing an automated alerting platform to create a holistic safety solution, facility operators ensure that not only are they getting the most out of their current technology investments, but that they are protecting their employees, improving workflow, and reaching their desired outcomes. Rather than purchasing system after system to solve minor problems, when a facility focuses on how their technology and its employees can work together, a safer and more efficient environment can be created.

Amy Jeffs currently serves as Vice President of Status Solutions, and has held various positions within the mission-based organization for the past 13 years. Her primary duties include assisting Status Solutions’ Founder and President with developing and implementing the company’s overall go-to-market strategy. Her past experience includes 20+ years of technology business and marketing at start-ups up to Fortune 500 companies.