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How can I prepare for the worst? Preparedness

The written disaster/emergency plan is a blueprint for action that enables action to be taken in a timely and orderly manner. Each plan is unique to the organisation. It should be written in clear and concise language, and stored in a format that can be easily updated. The location of the plan should be clear, and the responsibility for maintaining the plan should be clear.

However, the plan should be sufficiently flexible to allow managers to take decisions appropriate to to the situation. A written disaster/emergency plan is never finished. Circumstances change, and lessons are learnt from dealing with an incident. The plan should be updated immediately following the review of the handling of the incident. It is particularly important to maintain responsibility flow charts: named responsibility or key holders may be absent, individual responsibility changes to meet operational needs, and the individual may have left the organisation.

The plan should be reviewed and updated annually. The senior manager responsible for disaster/emergency planning should have this as a clear objective within their annual job plan.

Preparation for disaster/emergency planning will:

  • Enable action to be taken to mitigate harm from identified risks
  • Identify the need for resources to react to, and recover from an incident
  • Enable training to be identified and undertaken
  • Identify sources of expertise and assistance in the event of an incident
  • Necessitate increased internal co-operation
  • Identify the management and personnel time required for the task
  • Require active and visible support and commitment from senior management
  • Encourage co-operation externally
  • Enable better co-operation with insurers
  • Enable the quantification of loss following an incident
  • Increase liaison with the emergency services
  • Increase understanding of specialist needs by the emergency services
  • Minimise loss and maximise business continuity

The plan will set out:

  • Who must take action in an emergency: nominated and trained staff members
  • What they must do: roles and responsibilities
  • When they must to it: in liaison with emergency services and other agencies
  • How they must do it: ensuring best practice for salvage and protection of collections