The burden of coordinating a response to a natural disaster falls most heavily upon local governments. Local governments are expected to be the first organizations on the ground providing emergency services, moving vulnerable people to safe locations, and cleaning up the damage. However, the operations of local governments themselves can be impeded by the natural disaster. In order to guard against this risk, local government HR departments should have plans in place for dealing with natural disasters. Here a few things to keep in mind when developing these plans:
- Have a plan to respond to each natural disaster: Local governments should determine which natural disasters they will most likely encounter, and then develop a plan to respond to each of these. In Illinois, local governments should have plans in place to deal with tornadoes, flooding, and extreme cold.
- Determine your personnel needs: Local governments should determine which personnel would be needed during a disaster, as well as how these personnel might be required to be utilized during the disaster. Remember that this might not be just first responders like firefighters or police, but IT workers, office personnel, and even HR managers. Plans should be made in advance as to which employees would be able to work overtime.
- Take into account volunteer efforts: During emergencies members of the community almost always seek to volunteer to aid in the response and recovery. However, these volunteers may become a hindrance to the rescue and recovery efforts if not utilized correctly. Therefore, plans should be made in advance about who will supervise and coordinate volunteer efforts.
- Identify a safe location where government operations can continue: What if the natural disaster destroys the government’s center of operations? Local governments should identify safe places where those operations can continue.
- Identify plan supervisors: HR departments should identify people who will become experts on the emergency management plan and will implement it when the emergency strikes.
- Provide training: A disaster management plan will not be worth much if no one knows about it. Regular disaster management training sessions should be conducted so that employees are familiar with the plan and will be able to implement it during the disaster.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions about what should be included in a disaster management plan or would like help drafting one.