Organizations should be prepared to respond to emergency situations. These situations may arise from a multitude of sources, including natural and man-made hazards. Large emergencies typically involve multiple infrastructure systems and large populations, so co-ordination with emergency services and managers is critical.
A few elements of preparation can be noted. First, a communications strategy should be in place. This strategy should include a means of communicating with infrastructure users and response personnel. For example, a broadcast strategy of emergency communications via email and text messaging should be in place. The broadcast mechanism should be regularly tested.
The second component of emergency preparation is a decision making strategy. Who is empowered to make decisions in the event of an emergency? Successors should also be identified in case the primary decision-maker is not available.
In an emergency, knowledge of available resources may be critical. Where and what resources and emergency supplies are positioned can be important information to aid effective decision making.
As noted earlier, pre-positioning personnel, equipment, and supplies can be a very effective preparation strategy. Temporary bridges, transformers, power lines and the like can be all readied for rapid deployment.
Temporary facilities may also be needed for emergency operations. Shelters can be assembled for individuals made homeless by fires or other destruction. Dirt runways can be used for the delivery of emergency supplies by air. Temporary cellular telephone and Wi-Fi stations can be moved in and installed rapidly.
Response to emergencies generally requires immediate attention from all the members of the infrastructure management team. Innovation, coordination and rapid decision making are necessary elements of a successful response!