On this page
- What to do immediately after a disaster
- Put together a response checklist
- Make a decision on the long-term future of your business
Know how to cope with stress
One of the most fundamental elements to understand about responding to a crisis is that it is highly probable that shock and trauma will take over and you will be unable to respond to the emergency with the same mental clarity as you currently believe you would. Having an already created and well-practiced response plan can guide your actions and leave you with the best outcome in whatever circumstances you face. Read our Stress savvy in business page for more tips on dealing with stress.
Make sure everyone is safe
The first thing to do in response to an emergency is to make sure everyone is safe. The following represents a likely immediate response process. Visit our Fire preparation section for information specific to bushfires.
Step 1: the staff member who is trained and is reponsible for 'first point emergency response' to respond quickly, ensuring all those involved in the emergency, including any visitors and clients, are evacuated to the designated 'safe place', emergency services are called where required and to ensure any injuries are attended to.
Step 2: secure the immediate emergency area to ensure there is no ongoing danger to others and to prevent the area from being contaminated in where it is likely a police or Worksafe inquiry may be required.
Step 3: record the details of the emergency in order to report those details to appropriate authorities i.e. police, Worksafe, management and then to advise relevant family and friends of the incident using the emergency contact information you have recorded for each staff member.
Step 4: if applicable and depending on the type of disaster and once everyone has been attended to, ensure everyone registers at any relief centre that has been established.
To document your response process use a Crisis planning template.
The time it takes for a business to return to something like normal operating levels after a crisis depends on a number of key issues:
- overall damage assessment. Can you trade from your existing premises and what stock, supplies, equipment and other key assets are recoverable and what is not recoverable?
- contact your insurer to find out details of insurance money to be paid to you and when it is likely to be paid
- source any government assistance you can access
- communicate with employees, customers and suppliers
- assess the business's financial position
- develop a plan to reopen your business.
- Is everyone ok or are there injuries whether physical, emotional or psychological?
- If yes, where can they be treated and what ongoing treatment will be available to them?
- What will be the impact on individual injuries or trauma on the business and potentially for how long?
- Are there other people readily available to take the place of those injured or traumatised and if not where will you find those people?
- Are there going to be any interruptions to the normal processes for operating your business?
- What contingencies can you put in place to get the business processes back to normal in the shortest possible time?
- Is there physical damage to the premises and if so what are the extent of these damages?
- For how long will they impact the normal flow of business?
- Do you need to get alternative premises to continue operating whilst repairs or restoration are occuring.
- Are there issues with your providers or maybe issues in your environment that prevent your providers from supplying you?
- How long may these issues continue and will these issues require alternate providers?
- Has this particular crisis had an impact on your customer's perception of your brand or profile?
- What actions do you have to take to either repair the damage to your profile or reinforce your brand message?
- Has a crisis had such a significant impact on the future performance of your business that you may need to consider whether you should reopen the business? Make sure you seek advice and take your time on this one, rather than making a split decision when you are still stressed.
Returning to normal
Once the initial damage assessment has been done, you need to think about what you'll do long term.
Your key options are:
- re-establishing the business: if you decide to do this the CPA Australia Disaster Recovery Toolkit will help with this process
- selling the business
- passing the business on to someone else
- merging the business with another business
- closing down the business
- liquidation (selling the assets)
- forced closure (filing for bankruptcy).