BCP Step 3: Plan

By completing Step 3, you will learn how to assign business continuity strategies, and how to develop and coordinate an emergency response plan. Resources are available, linked in the text as well as accessible in the “Resources” section, to guide you through Step 3: Plan. Remember, these guidelines are basic knowledge and you are encouraged to tailor them to meet your specific business’s needs.

How to develop an emergency response plan

  • Establish an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) planning committee to draft a written plan describing how the business will respond during a disaster. Make sure the committee is diverse and consider the following when creating the document:
    • Leadership plans/chain of command
    • Warning systems/how to alert employees and other stakeholders
    • Determination of when the ERP will go into effect
  • Within the ERP, the following should be included
    • Evacuation procedures, with gathering points
    • Shelter-in-place procedures
    • Internal response to medical emergencies
    • Timeline and information on when and how to conduct drills, exercises, and ongoing training
    • Long-term steps to mitigation and risk reduction
    • How to respond to other hazards and risks identified during Step 2.
    • Hazard-specific preparedness efforts may be found for each hazard under “How do I prepare? Workplace.”
  • Remember to include contracted staff, night shift employees, visitors, etc. into the plan.
  • A template to assist in the creation of an emergency response plan can be found here.
  • Create a crisis communication plan

How to coordinate emergency response

Businesses may consider compiling and identifying members to be a part of 3 different teams, depending on the size of the business.

Emergency Response Team (ERT)

  • An ERT is an already established team of employees who have been vetted and assessed according to the types of problems that the company will expect to respond to.
  • Look for individuals who have CPR training, basic first aid skills, an ability to direct people during times of evacuation, etc. Consider administering a voluntary questionnaire to identify these employees.
  • By having these individuals on-site, they will be able to respond to an emergency more quickly than first responders and can administer first-aid until they arrive.
  • If unable to identify employees with such training, consider offering training to those who show potential and interest in taking on this responsibility.
  • This team will also need to be good communicators as they relay situation reports to upper levels during an emergency.
  • Make sure to invest in the necessary supplies and equipment for the ERT.

Emergency Management Team (EMT)

  • An EMT supports the field emergency response carried out by the EMT.
  • An EMT has defined lines of authority and communication which may reflect an already existing organizational structure.
  • There should be a designated leader and the EMT will assemble immediately when an incident occurs.

Crisis Management Team (CMT)

  • The CMT makes strategic decisions about the organization and its future during unfolding events, not waiting until all the crises are taken care of to make larger decisions.
  • There should be a designated team leader who is chosen wisely through a self and peer nomination process. 
  • The CMT should comprise of middle and upper management–individuals who have a sense and familiarity of the company’s goals and objectives, as well as available resources.
  • A “scribe” should be appointed to take note of rationales for decisions. This may be useful in later legal proceedings, consult with a legal team of what should be noted.
  • CMT members should be assigned to positions that match the functions they are familiar with.
  • If ever assembled, the CMT should conduct a quick situation assessment before decision making, if time allows.

Continue to Step 4: Implement



Emergency Response Plan: An emergency plan describing the steps a business, organization, school or school district will take to protect individuals during emergencies. The plan should address four phases of emergency planning – mitigation and prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. [Source: American Red Cross Ready Rating]