Building Emergency Evacuation
Quick and Efficient Emergency Mass Evacuations
The first moments of a threat or other emergency are critical to the safety of employees, visitors, and contractors onsite. Even a short delay in response can result in serious consequences. Mass notification of all individuals in the building, needs to be practiced and scripted. Some emergency situations may require an evacuation of the building, while others may require individuals to shelter in place, or relocate to a safer area in the building. Nonetheless, communicating efficiently and effectively is the top priority in any emergency situation.
The protocol for a building-wide evacuation due to a physical threat, fire, earthquake, or catastrophic event must be communicated to each individual in the building. Emergency evacuations are a challenge for buildings lacking a visitor management system, without building occupant records accessible from a mobile device or a computer. With a software-as-a-service system such as iVisitor, building management and security personnel can quickly identify all current visitors, their host, where they are visiting, and access contact details to notify building occupants quickly for evacuation.
Another common mass notification that all building managers should practice is how to instruct all building occupants (visitors, contractors, and employees) to “Shelter in Place” or “Lock Down”. While these are terms often used in the event of a physical threat, these commands are also used to protect individuals in the building in the event of a chemical spill or other bio-hazard (inside or outside the building). In these events, reaching all individuals within the building in a timely manner is crucial; a visitor management system can provide the critical information needed to communicate with individuals inside the building in a timely manner.
In the event of a threat where an evacuation is not recommended, such as a tornado, evacuation team leaders and security personnel should be able to notify all building occupants where to seek shelter. This may be a tornado shelter in the basement, a reinforced stairwell, or another secure location that has been identified and communicated in advance to all tenants and employees.
An emergency response plan should include the following items:
- How to identify the number of individuals onsite at time of emergency.
- How to notify all individuals in the building, whether through email, text messages, phone calls, or the public address system.
- Primary exits, as well as alternatives in the event a primary exit is blocked.
- How to communicate which exit to use in the event of an evacuation, and the rallying area once outside of the building.
- Identification and training of Evacuation Team Leader, plus alternates, that are kept up-to-date on security protocols, emergency exits, and communication strategies in the middle of a crisis. These individuals should also be prepared to handle any onsite employees or visitors that have disabilities that may require additional assistance during evacuation or sheltering.
- How will security, employees, visitors and contractors communicate after the evacuation? It is essential to know how to get in touch with each individual onsite.
It is imperative that security personnel have an accurate head count of individuals onsite, at all times. In the event of an emergency, this information is key to provide to 911 operators, so they know how many units to dispatch. In addition, a list of all individuals onsite at the time of the emergency allows first responders to ensure everyone has evacuated the building safely.
While most buildings and businesses have their own emergency response plan, and have the contact information of their employees, few keep track of their visitors, contractors, and vendors onsite. In the event of an emergency, identifying these visiting individuals can be easily facilitated with a visitor management system such as Veristream’s iVisitor