July 12, 2022 Posted by Pocketstop in Mass Notification, Crisis Communications, Internal Communications Social Share
How to alert employees in an emergency: you are going to need a little technical help. Of course, dialing 911 is the most common method of reporting emergencies, but that method may not be able to connect you to your employees and get them additional help and vital information. Having an alarm system is also a common and effective method, but the signal must be recognizable by all employees for the right reasons. Your employees also need instructions to follow after they hear the alarm bell.
Calling 911 and sounding an alarm should never, ever be ruled out, but there are additional methods to alert employees in an emergency that can increase your chances of helping and communicating with your people and even saving lives.
Emergencies to consider
- Extreme or severe weather
- Building emergencies like fire or flooding
- Health issues like COVID or a flu outbreak
- Communications network failure (your emergency alert system is a separate, unaffected system)
- Ransomware attack or hacking
- Active shooter
- Criminal activity
- Machine and IT functions
- Security breaches
Your first step in alerting employees in an emergency – make a plan
Before you do or consider anything, create an emergency plan in advance and have your employees practice drill. The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggests these steps:
- Identify a preferred method for reporting, be it fires, weather-related disasters, and other emergencies.
- Create an evacuation policy and procedures
- Decide specific directions for escape, such as floor plans, maps, and designated refuge areas
- Gather contact information of and for staff
- Assign specific duties for those designated to stay behind; for instance, shutting down operations, fire extinguisher handling, and other tasks.
- Consider rescue and medical duties, for those designated.
Once this list is detailed and completed, form a team. Invite the employees and staff who you would trust most in an emergency situation. Give each team member a specific goal to carry out, such as staying behind, helping employees evacuate, turning off the IT systems, or taking a staff head count. Ask professionals for advice if needed, say from a fire or a police department.
Communications methods for alerting employees in an emergency
Consider these systems when alerting employees:
- a public address system
- portable radio unit
- a mass notification system that allows you to communicate with your employees in real time
The goal: alerting employees at the right time, in the right place.
How to find the most effective mass notification system for alerting your employees in an emergency
When an emergency happens, your employees are going to need to know things, and fast. For instance, they will need to know if your office or business is closing (and if so, when), or if, heaven forbid, there is an active shooter on the premises. A mass notification system like RedFlag will get this type of vital information to your employees in real time, immediately educating them with instructions and updates.
How the employees will receive this information:
- SMS texts
- Phone calls
- Social media
- Other platforms like Microsoft Teams
How RedFlag can help
RedFlag offers an emergency alert system with features that allows you to alert employees within seconds. Compose a simple but informational message and send it to everybody you need to contact, in one easy click.
Features and benefits:
- One easy platform: your control center should be simple to navigate and powerful enough to reach everyone. Send your message in mere seconds, and have it received in real time.
- Integrate RedFlag with your existing computer system: you should be able to integrate it with both your business hardware and software. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Let your emergency alert system line up with your trusted, tested technology.
- Multichannel usage: broadcast your emergency message to where your employees will most likely receive them: texts, email, voicemail, desktop alerts, Microsoft Teams alerts, and more. Think of it as one important message being sent out seamlessly to every one of these platforms with no delays.
- Two-way communication: your staff should be able to not only receive the message but respond to it, letting you know that they are okay or if they need help. In the end, you will have a detailed account of the communication you’ve conducted with your staff for the duration of the emergency. This could be the most peace of mind you can experience in an emergency — knowing your staff is safe, and where they are.
- Specific customization: make sure your employees know the messages are coming specifically from you. Include your company logo or a recognized “secret word.” This will help your staff easily recognize and trust the message. You can send these messages to a very specific recipient list, even down to one person. At the same time, be sure that only the people who need to see the message will receive the message — no confusion. Simply create this message in advance, before the emergency occurs. The last thing you will want to do is create the message and the recipient list in the midst of an emergency. Don’t worry — you can always edit the message and the recipient list in real time, if needed. Shape the message to more specific details and situations as you need to do so, but the basic draft will already be there.
- Reporting and analytics capabilities: make sure you have specific documentation of the emergency event. This will prove, if you are in court, that you have taken steps to be helpful to your staff and transparent in your procedures. Your system will show you who had received and opened the message, and that they had chosen in advance to receive your message on a certain platform (for instance, email or text).
- Security: no matter what the emergency, you want your system and your data to be secure. In the middle of the event, you can’t worry if your message is going to the right people at the right time — it should be a given. You should have the peace of mind of knowing that your system will not experience an outage or be knocked offline or hacked. Ultimately, your personal information should be protected with secure, encrypted notifications (permissions required).
- Geo-targeting capabilities: as a business owner, you may not be in the vicinity of the emergency when it goes down. That shouldn’t matter when it comes to protecting your staff. Your system lets you be in control even if you are not physically there: direct your staff to a safer place, map the emergency location and “group” the people who most need to be addressed and helped.
Buy only the features you need. Don’t pay money for features that will not help you in an emergency. RedFlag can help you with this.
The emergency alert system you choose should allow you to communicate with your staff in real time, sharing urgent and potentially lifesaving information. The size or your business or your group should not matter — what does matter is that you protect your staff in an emergency and gain a clear insight into what happened, so that you can prepare for any other emergencies that may happen in the future.
This PDF of an OSHA booklet offers how to plan for workplace emergencies and evacuations.
Find out more about how RedFlag can help you create an emergency alert system for your business. Click here.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has online information about the Emergency Alert System. Click here.