When an unexpected incident strikes, you can bet that chaos will ensue if your team has no plan to respond.
An incident response plan is a set of procedures that assign responsibilities to personnel in order to keep guests safe in the case of an unexpected event that has the potential to disrupt operations at a facility.
Don’t let these incidents catch your team off guard. Here’s what you need to know in order to create an effective incident response plan template.
Why Is an Incident Response Plan Important?
First and foremost, an incident response plan allows you to be prepared when an incident occurs. An incident can be somewhat minor, such as a guest smoking in your facility, or it can be major, such as a shooting or bomb threat.
An incident response plan is based on two primary functions:
- Quickly receive detailed information on the incident
- Respond to the incident with the right personnel and procedures
Your plan will help you keep track of what needs to be done and who needs to do it so that every person involved can immediately jump into action.
By using the right tools, including software that helps you execute the plan, you can then review and improve your procedures after an incident occurs. This also enables you to be proactive in addressing potential problems before they happen.
6 Steps of an Incident Response Plan Template
Not all incident response plan templates should look the same. Unfortunately, many organizations have failed to examine their procedures closely enough to implement a plan that actually makes a positive impact. In many cases, organizations have an incident response plan simply for compliance or future audit activity. It’s a “check the box” plan that doesn’t reflect reality and isn’t effective when an incident occurs.
As you develop your incident response plan template, you’ll find areas to personalize to your venue. Testing is a necessary part of the process, so keep this in mind as you make the necessary updates.
Here are the fundamental aspects of a plan to get you started.
1. Define What “Incidents” Are for Your Venue
Before you begin creating a response plan for an incident, you need to determine your organization’s criteria for what an incident entails. For most venues, this includes anything that requires a response from one of their teams, such as cleaning up a bathroom or spilled food, or addressing physical altercations.
From there, categorize the incidents. For instance, deploying your janitorial team to clean up food that spilled on a row of seats would be categorized as a “minor incident,” as opposed to a violent event.
2. Identify Critical Systems
Incidents occur quickly, which means you need software that responds just as quickly. Incident management systems are web-based platforms that allow those impacted by an incident to report the incident through mobile devices.
You can use such a system to:
- Track all of your incidents in real time
- Utilize a dispatch queue that’s configured for your team
- Build workflows that immediately dispatch personnel
- Maintain a detailed history of all incident records for liability purposes
- Ensure that incidents are resolved as quickly as possible
These systems also provide the option to document your processes so that every person who reads the documentation knows the full scope of the plan and can adhere to your protocols and standard operating procedures
3. Assign Responsibilities
When an incident occurs, there can be no questions about who is responsible for responding.
Taking the incident categories you created in the first step, answer relevant questions about potential scenarios, such as:
- In the case of an active shooter, who will directly engage with the shooter?
- Who will direct guests out of the facility?
- Who will contact and coordinate with local law-enforcement officials?
You should assign responsibility directly through the system so that the workflow is automated as soon as an incident is reported.
4. Develop Response Procedures
In tandem with assigning responsibilities, training your staff on response procedures allows them to jump into action as soon as an event is reported to ensure the safety of your guests. With the right system, task management software automates the workflow so that the right personnel are responding.
Using data analytics from your chosen incident management system, you can incorporate preventive measures by identifying where and when incidents frequently occur.
5. Create Clear Lines of Communication
A clear line of communication between your guests and your incident management system should be at the foundation of your response plan. Without it, you don’t have a plan.
For this step, you need a system that allows your team to receive the details and status of an incident via text, email, or a mobile app. This gives users the ability to quickly fill out incident forms and resolve issues in the field.
It’s also important to keep your guests informed after the event. The system you use needs a function that enables mass communication to keep guests updated on the status of the incident.
6. Establish a Recovery Plan
Once the situation is resolved, document the incident with every record, note, detail, change, associated user, and affected guest.
Be sure that the incident record and any modifications are timestamped to ensure you have an extensive audit trail that can never be manipulated for liability purposes.
Execute Your Incident Response Strategy with 24/7 Software
Every incident response plan has a series of moving parts that are dependent on the steps that came before them. Assigning responsibility, dispatching personnel, and auditing your process will be possible only with an effective incident management system.
Our incident management system helps venue operators track, document, manage, resolve, and report incidents. Learn more about our system by getting your free copy of How to Build Your Incident Management Infrastructure.