Any organization’s response to an emergency is one of the most visible activities in which it can be involved. In some cases, a business may be located within a neighborhood, where it has operated for years, flying under the radar because it has had no incidents that have affected residents.
Once an incident occurs, whether it is a fire, a HazMat incident or a severe injury, residents instantly become aware of the company’s presence in their neighborhood. This is particularly true in today’s real-time world, in which a significant incident quickly becomes common knowledge, spreading rapidly via social media outlets, the Internet and 24-hour news services. As a result of the negative publicity, residents may begin to believe that the company is a threat to their safety and well-being and a less-than-desirable neighbor. The consequences of the incident, in terms of public perception of the company, is influenced by the company’s emergency preparedness and response, as well as its coordination with local emergency responders.
Emergency response incidents are inherently dangerous. Unlike routine operations within a facility, the risk cannot be completely eliminated. When addressing routine, planned operations, stakeholders have adequate time to thoroughly analyze the situation and develop appropriate risk controls before beginning the operation. In the fast-paced, life-and death world of emergency response, those involved do not always have time to thoroughly analyze the situation and eliminate all risk before acting.
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