Facility emergency response plans identify specific types of hazards, risks and circumstances that could harm people or the environment. They also document the tools and tactics that will be used to prevent injuries or property damage. Skilled emergency response coordinators are a vital link between just having plans on paper and having emergency response practices that really work.
Emergency response coordinators are responsible for making decisions during emergencies. To do this well, they need to be properly trained and supported by management. Inherent leadership skills help in this position, but even the best leaders may still need to be taught skills such as coordinating response efforts with outside agencies and performing risk assessments. They also need opportunities to practice these skills during response drills and exercises.
Several EPA and OSHA standards require an emergency response coordinator or emergency contact to be listed in written plans. In some cases, back-up personnel must also be listed. The coordinator “should be responsible for assessing the situation to determine whether an emergency exists, activating the emergency procedures, overseeing emergency procedures, notifying and coordinating with outside emergency services, and directing the shutdown of utilities or plant operations, if necessary,” according to OSHA.