In any crisis, the first few minutes are the most important.
That is why it is so important to have a process in place for activating your crisis team. This includes sending out emergency notifications and organizing communication among team members. Without an activation process, you risk wasting valuable time trying to get your team organized and up-to-speed. In this blog post, we will discuss different methods of team activation and how to choose the best strategy for your organization.
Understand the Current Notification Capabilities
Before deciding on a team activation strategy, it is important to understand the tools your organization already has in place.
Do you have an emergency notification system? If so, what are its capabilities? Can you send messages to specific groups of people or does everyone receive every message? Does the system announce phone numbers or email addresses for live updates from someone on your team?
Do you have a crisis management or incident response plan in place? If so, what is the activation process for getting your response and communication teams engaged? Is there an emergency phone tree to get everyone on the same page quickly and efficiently? Do you have contact information for all team members readily available or do people need to be found and contacted in the middle of a crisis?
If you do not have an emergency notification system or incident response plan, now is the time to start developing them. The sooner you have these tools in place, the better prepared your organization will be for a crisis.
Choose an Activation Strategy
Once you understand your current notification capabilities, it is time to decide on an activation strategy. The best strategy for your organization will depend on many different factors, but here are a few things to consider when choosing a method of activation:
Ease and Speed – In order to activate team members during a crisis, you need an easy-to-use system that allows for quick notification. You want to make sure that the system is easy enough for anyone on your team to use, even if they are not tech savvy.
System Coverage – Another important factor to consider is how many people you can notify at one time. In some smaller organizations with a limited number of crisis response members, it may be possible for everyone to contact each other directly, although this is still challenging. In most organizations it is necessary to have a system that allows you to send out mass notifications and get everyone on the same page quickly. Time is of the essence!
In this article by OnSolve, it notes that a critical communications system allows you to craft specific messages for these groups according to how they’ll be impacted. The ability to create subgroups and send geo-targeted alerts ensures you’re only notifying impacted individuals (rather than raising unnecessary cause for alarm).
Live Updates – Another thing to consider when choosing an activation strategy is whether or not you can use your notification system for live updates during the crisis. The ability to send out updates helps keep your team engaged and aware of the latest developments, so it is important to have at least one member on your notification system with access to live updates.
Practicing the Activation Strategy
Once you have chosen an activation strategy and put it into place, make sure to practice activating your crisis team.
There are many different ways you can do this. You could test out your system by sending a message to specific groups of people or even the entire organization at once. If you are using a phone tree, then set up a call with everyone on your team and walk through the activation process.
After activating your crisis response team, it is important to collect feedback from each member of the team about their experience. That way you can identify opportunities for improvement and make adjustments prior to an actual incident. This will help ensure that your notification system and communication strategy are optimized for success during a crisis.
Make Activation Part of Your Tabletop Exercise Objectives
One of the best ways to test your emergency notification system and communication strategy is through tabletop exercises. In a tabletop exercise, individuals from different parts of the organization come together to simulate a crisis. This allows you to test out your plans including the activation process, identify potential issues, and make changes before an actual incident occurs.
When planning your next tabletop exercise, consider making activation one of your objectives. You can set up a scenario in which team members are responsible for activating their crisis response teams and then testing the emergency notification system or communication strategy that they use to do so. This will allow you to test out your plan without having to deal with the stress of an actual incident.
Having an easy-to-use notification system in place will help ensure that you are able to quickly activate your crisis response team and communicate effectively during an emergency.
How do you plan on activating your crisis team? Let us know in the comments below!