Even if rain isn’t in the forecast, most of us still store an umbrella somewhere. We all have a spare tire even though we don’t expect to get a flat. We still feed the meter for an hour and fifteen when we know we’ll only be gone for an hour.
Why is it any different with an office emergency? It is rare to wake up expecting a fire, flood, or civil disturbance at the office, but planning for these events are crucial for us and our employees. Not sure how to begin? Use the following steps as a guide.
Do an emergency assessment and determine what types of potential emergencies are a risk for your office.
Your emergency plan should be all inclusive and tailored to your organization. Do an assessment of any physical, environmental, or chemical hazards that might make your building vulnerable to an emergency. If you have multiple sites, each one should have its own emergency plan. For more information on types of emergencies in the workplace, take a deeper look with OSHA’s “How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations” guide.
Develop a method for reporting emergencies and alerting your employees.
A well developed plan should have an efficient system for reporting an emergency that also includes a standard way of alerting employees. An alarm system is an obvious component, but it doesn’t give employees much information other than to leave the building. A portable radio unit or a mobile crisis management network, like Punch Alert, are reliable options. Confusion is the last thing you want in a crisis, so make sure to train your employees on your desired method. If you’d like a little more guidance on crisis communication visit ready.gov or cdc.gov for more insight and sample plans.
Assign roles and duties for employees.
Set up internal teams within the office, such as an evacuation team or shelter team. Within each team designate a leader who has the authority to make decisions and supervises the process. Also assign medical duties for employees qualified to perform them and instructions for those who may stay behind to shut down any operations, or use fire extinguishers. It’s crucial for employees to know their role for a smooth evacuation that minimizes damages, so make sure the teams and roles are clearly written out. For an example of a comprehensible plan, view ready.gov’s sample template.
Develop an evacuation policy and procedure.
Based on the floor plan of your office, come up with primary and secondary escape routes. Make sure your chosen exits are well lit, wide enough to fit several employees, and unlikely to put those evacuating at any further risk. Also determine refuge areas designated for when evacuation is no longer an option. Post these procedures where they are easily accessible to everyone. Consider a physical location at the office and also online or mobile – more than one place is always best.
Designate an assembly location.
An assembly location ensures you can account for all employees after evacuation and notify police, fire department, or medics if anyone is still in the building.
It is crucial for you and your employees to take the time to plan for an emergency. Although no one expects a crisis when they walk into work, it gives everyone peace of mind to know the organization is ready for it. It’s like bringing that umbrella to the picnic when there’s not a cloud in the sky – always Be Prepared!
Stronger workplace violence regulations demand a comprehensive, superior safety system.
A national research study shows that health care workers are at a higher risk of workplace violence than the average worker. It is not uncommon for health care workers to suffer injuries from aggressive, upset patients, angry family members, or other stressed employees. (For more information visit here)
California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has approved a rule that protects health care workers against violence in the workplace in California. This newly approved rule requires hospitals and other health care organizations to develop violence prevention plans that will identify violent risks, provide a process for mitigation and an effective response plan. It ensures that workplace violence is reported, investigated, and reviewed. In addition, it stipulates that the organizations effectively alert employees of the presence, location, and nature of a violent act or security threat.
Health care facilities are required to implement the use of an “alarm system or other effective means by which their employees can summon security and other aid” to manage and resolve an actual or potential workplace violence emergency. This new law has set the bar with the strongest regulations against workplace violence and will most likely become the model for other healthcare organizations nationally.
Implementing an effective, comprehensive and compliant solution can be complicated, time consuming and expensive. We, at Punch Technologies, have developed an emergency communication platform that will meet all the requirements set forth by CAL/OSHA and more.
Punch Alert is exactly the safety system health care facilities will need to meet the OSHA Compliance standards and keep their staff safe in the workplace.
Utilizing the cell phones that employees already have, Punch Alert is a comprehensive mobile safety system that healthcare workers can bring with them anywhere, anytime. If they find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation they can discretely punch a button in the app immediately alerting the right responders and notifying other employees nearby about the incident. Staff, patients and visitors can also receive warnings or announcements as mass notifications from the designated safety team on property. All organizations using Punch Alert are geofenced and iBeacons will accurately determine even specific indoor locations, so responders always have precise information about where help is needed in an active emergency situation. The staff can also access emergency plans on their phone at any time, so they are prepared and equipped for any emergency specific to their department and organization. Using Punch Alert as safety communication, the health care organization will automatically obtain an archive of incidents and communication on record to review with staff, which allows for ongoing training and involvement of employees, hence increased preparedness for emergencies.
Punch Alert doesn’t only help organizations meet OSHA Compliance Standards, the fact that all staff in the healthcare organization is connected in a portable safety community via their phones, will take away the stress and worries about how to deal with unforeseen incidents during a shift.
When Punch Alert takes care of the health care workers safety, the health care workers can take care of their patients. Within the health care organization, no one gets hurt and everyone is safe.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Apr 25 2016
Media Contact: Molly Antos
YMCA of Greater Charlotte Activates Mobile Emergency Communication Platform at all Locations Following Success in Initial Test Location
CHARLOTTE, NC, Apr 25 2016 –
Today, Punch Technologies announced that all Charlotte, NC YMCA locations are employing Punch Alert technology as a result of a successful test run in the YMCA’s Dowd location. Punch Alert is the only all-in-one, mobile emergency communication platform created to keep public spaces safe and allow instant communication for responders.
“Punch Technologies is excited to announce our official partnership with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte.” said Greg Artzt, CEO of Punch Technologies. “We look forward to bringing our safety technology to all the YMCA locations in Charlotte to keep their staff and members safe. The YMCA is a perfect example of how an organization can use Punch Alert to create a fully integrated community of safety that engages the internal responders of the organization, employees, members, and official responders.”
The Charlotte association of the YMCA initiated a single-location test run of the Punch Alert technology at their Dowd branch in October 2015. After success and positive feedback from staff using the technology, the YMCA signed onto an annual contract for 23 Y locations. In the coming months, the branches plan to give every employee access to the safety platform and every member access by 2017.
The Y has also given access to thePunch Alert platform to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department for quicker response to emergencies as reported.
“Keeping our staff and members safe at all times is a top priority for the YMCA,” said Kimberly Conroy, Risk Manager for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. “The success our Dowd branch saw during the pilot served as proof that all of our locationscould greatly benefit from utilizing the technology and we are excited to officially launch Punch Alert in additional locations.”
Punch Alert provides security by including a panic button that, once pressed, alerts emergency responders of a potentially life-threatening situation. Responders then have the ability to release emergency information to others when appropriate, involving them collaboratively in the response process. Punch Alert streamlines communication by enabling users to submit information and emergency responders to deliver mass updates during emergencies. Punch Alert also, through its use of GPS and iBeacon/Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, provides location awareness by capturing the location of the initial report and actively monitoring the location of all community members until the emergency is resolved. It is an all-in-one mobile response tool for emergency situations.
About Punch Technologies
Punch Technologies is a mobile software company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are the creators of the Punch Alert mobile security and communication platform. The Punch Alert Platform is the only all-in-one emergency communication platform leveraging both GPS and iBeacon location technology.
We’ve been collaborating recently with a friend, John Baker, Safety and Security Manager for Lancaster Lebanon IU13 in Pennsylvania. John requested I draft a guest blog post last week, and it just went live here.
You can also read the post here:
With foresight and leadership, great schools across the country are making safety a priority, and not just with words but concrete action. Here are some notable items to consider when putting your own plan into action:
- Not Just Active Shooter – Ironically, the best way to prepare for an active shooter incident is to embrace safety solutions that can be used for more common safety incidents. The high incidence of active shooter events is frightening, and many schools have changed their mindset to “when,” not “if.” That said, every school frequently faces incidents such as accidents, injuries, weather events, fights and other dangerous situations involving students, parents, or visitors. By communicating through a system like Punch Alert on a regular basis, a school is able to more finely tune its ability to handle, measure, and improve its response for when it needs it the most.
- Work Together – Safety is not just the job of our law enforcement. In the past, schools relied too much on 911 and the police or fire department to arrive on scene and direct traffic. This approach has not proven sufficient. Schools must act immediately and with confidence. Punch Alert customers form an “internal responder” team for every location that makes emergency response their greatest responsibility. Within seconds of an emergency declared, responders communicate in the mobile app and make the critical decisions whether or not to release the emergency not only to official responder groups, but staff, faculty, students, parents, or even visitors. With this inclusive approach, schools are able to build a community of safety that can work together to make a difference.
At Punch Alert, we’ve been very lucky to work with and learn from great, action-oriented schools across the country. As a parent of young children, I’m optimistic that our schools have the skills, tools, and mindset required to keep our children safe. But this will not happen on its own. We all need to get involved and help our schools move beyond the talk and take action!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb 16 2016
Media Contact: Molly Antos
Punch Technologies today introduces PAL, the first mobile app to help users crowd source safety for a wide scope of situations.
CHARLOTTE, NC, Feb 16 2016 –
Punch Technologies today introduces PAL, the first mobile app to help users crowd source safety for a wide scope of situations. This technology provides new functionality to the previously released Punch Alert app.
The first safety app to focus on the responder’s needs, Punch Alert turns any iOS or Android device into a mobile emergency solution. Users report emergencies or suspicious situations to preselected responders with text notes, images, video or audio recordings. Responders can crowd source this information, and redistribute warnings and announcements to the entire community as one mass notification. Instantly after an emergency is reported, responders receive an email, text message and automated phone call with the name and location of the person reporting the emergency. Responders can screen emergencies as they come in, release them to specific users, distribute emergency plans, communicate with other responders, share content and updates with anyone necessary and completely resolve the emergency – all from a mobile device.
Housed within the Punch Alert app, PAL users have the option of pushing a red or blue button. Red allows users to give or receive help from other PAL users in the area. After pressing the red button, users categorize the help request and wait for PALs to accept and respond. Once help is on the way, users can chat with the PALs coming to help to provide further information or instructions. After the interaction is resolved, the user can rate the PAL helper for future interactions. Any PAL can accept or dismiss help requests in the vicinity and report inappropriate PAL requests. Situations where the red button might be of use include:
- feeling threatened or trapped
- domestic abuse
- running out of gas
- any emergency where the ten minute wait for 911 is too long
The blue button allows users post and view safety tips in the area. Users press the blue button, categorize the post and post comments or photos to help describe the situation. All tips are displayed on a map to keep PALs in the area up to date and informed. Situations where the blue button might be of use include:
- a suspicious person or activity
- a dangerous animal
- weather problems
- hazardous material
- ice on the road
Both apps are free, though PAL will initially only be available for iOS, whereas Punch alert is available for both iOS and Android. At launch, PAL will be available on an invite-only basis. Visit joinpal.co to sign up for product updates.