Emergency Management, Safety and Security Cannot be Relegated Only to a Few, but Require Comprehensive Organizational Involvement, Says Management and Training Consultant Claire Belilos

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Until recently, managers and property owners in western democracies took it easy in matters of safety, security, and emergency management, economizing in the process. Following 9/11 and its aftermath, they can no longer afford this luxury. Business is “not” run as usual. A scramble to correct the situation leads many to adopt stop-gap measures, appointing only a limited number of managers and employees to provide some sort of safety measure, resulting in dangerous and misleading assumptions of effective organization and control. Incomplete planning and organization can cost many lives and lead to business loss.

Vancouver, B.C. December 26 2003--Managing emergencies and providing safety and security to guests, customers, employees, owners, and the property itself, requires informed and thorough planning and organization across the board, with the active involvement of all departments and employees. This responsibility cannot be relegated to only a few people in the organization. And these subjects cannot be considered as a “separate” field, but become an integral part of all operational functions.

A Safety and Security Committee must be selected (appointed or elected by the management team), based on the ability of its members to plan, communicate, train, coordinate, delegate, implement, supervise, and control the many aspects related to the prevention and management of safety, security and emergency situations pertinent to the organization.

This committee must be an active and dynamic force representing various operational departments (or divisions). Appointment to the committee should be based on knowhow, experience, and the ability to coordinate, implement and train, rather than rank. Rank-and-file and supervisory levels often make part of such committees.

The chairperson and vice-chair of the committee establish direct contact with national (federal) and local government authorities, obtain updated regulations, information, assistance and guidance from these authorities who are always glad to provide it. For example, they can invite the fire department to speak to different departments about fire hazards and prevention, or invite the police department to provide training and guidance on matters of security. Government authorities gladly give training material such as videos, posters, and print material for distribution.

A regular schedule is set for training by outsiders and “in house” continuous training for all departments.    Sporadic spot checks and drills are conducted.

The committee plans ahead for emergencies, such as fire outbreaks or other manmade or natural disasters, makes sure specific duties are assigned, such as immediate reporting to higher management, the security officer in charge, local authorities (such as the fire brigade). Supervisors and employees receive clear instructions and training on how to alert and rescue customers, guests, and visitors, including body count after evacuation, as well as how to alert other departments and colleagues. The key concern in all cases of disaster is to avoid panic. Sometimes more lives are lost due to panic than to the emergency itself.

A fail-proof communications network is set up, decided upon, different departments and individuals are assigned roles with clearly written explanations of, and discussions on, duties to perform in such events. People are taught to constantly keep aware of risks and hazards, and are trained on how to proceed, including providing feedback to the committee who can then take corrective measures.

The most important point to remember when organizing for emergency handling, safety and security, is that this is not the work of a few but an overall organizational effort.

Though basic principles are the same, actual planning and organization differ from one organization to the other, depending upon its setup, nature, type of clientele, type of service, staffing, management and employee profiles. Claire Belilos of CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services, specializes in tailoring the required setup, strategies, and training programs to answer the needs of the operation itself.

For additional information and consulting assistance, contact: Claire Belilos in Vancouver, B.C., Phone (604)687-8442 (Attention: pacific time zone), e-mail: consultant@easytraining.com

For more tips and guideles on safety and security read Safety and Security in the Workplace at http://www.easytraining.com/safety.htm

To ease communications and receive priority attention, please provide full details when contacting.

Copyright © 2003 Claire Belilos

Reprints for commercial purposes are not allowed. For special permission, contact Claire Belilos at consultant@easytraining.com, stating full information with valid company e-mail, URL and actual "physical" address.

CHIC Hospitality Consulting, founded in 1992, is a boutique-style consulting which always provides the “best fit”, with a focus on: people management, training and development, training design, training and coaching trainers, creation of effective human resources strategies and tools, formulation of policies and procedures, customer service organization and training, and hospitality operations.

The above guideline was written based on actual successful experience and in no way constitutes liability on the part of CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services or its owner.


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Claire Belilos