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First 24 hours

When an emergency strikes, follow these steps

On this page

  • Activate your emergency management plan
  • Keep informed
  • Assess the situation
  • Stay calm and relaxed
  • Help your staff to help your business
  • Communicate with your customers and suppliers
  • Be prepared for the media

If an emergency occurs that directly impacts your business, follow these steps:

Step 1: Activate your emergency management plan

Activate your emergency management plan and procedures to keep customers, staff and yourself safe and to protect your property.

If you don't have an emergency management plan, use the Immediate action checklist - First 24 hours (PDF 25.09 KB)PDF icon as a guide or refer to our emergency planning section.

If relevant, follow the advice given by emergency services agencies in terms of evacuations and access routes.

Step 2: Keep informed

Stay tuned to emergency broadcasters:

  • commercial radio
  • ABC Local Radio
  • SkyNews Television
  • A number of community stations.

Discover further information on staying informed during a crisis event including emergency phone numbers and a list of relevant social media links.

Step 3: Assess the situation

  1. Continue to monitor the situation through contact with the relevant emergency service agency
  2. Find out what facilities in your area are operating or closed due to the crisis
  3. Decide if your business should close or remain open.

Tip: Record your actions in an 'Event Log' to ensure you don't forget anything and to help with insurance or other claims in the future. This can simply be a spreadsheet or document where you record everything that occurs and what decisions you make.

Step 4: Stay calm and relaxed

Be aware that your behaviour and style of communication can have a big impact on your staff and customers. Even if you feel stressed, remain calm as others will be looking to you for leadership.

The less stressful the crisis situation is for your clients, the more likely they will be to return to your business. This will help your staff to do the same when carrying out emergency activities.

Step 5: Help your staff to help your business

Your staff will want to do what they can to help the situation. Make sure that you give your staff the information they need to help them provide a message of calm reassurance to your clients.

Regular briefings

It's important to brief staff on the situation as it unfolds. Build in regular briefings to your staff and listen to what they pick up from the customers. This will ensure that they feel involved and will give you invaluable information. 

Consistent communication

Your staff need to understand how enquiries are to be handled as they are your interface with the customer. Prepare a template of key messages that you want staff to pass on to customers and keep these updated. Make sure the 'script' is concise, factual and calm, with an emphasis on following safety advice. 

Tip: Also remember to keep staff informed who are not currently at work.

Step 6: Communicate with your customers and suppliers

  • Update clients directly in your care by talking to them personally about the crisis event, wherever possible
  • Contact clients who are expected to visit your business during the next few days to let them know if they can visit, especially if your business is not operational or access routes are closed.  
  • Update your social media and website with a brief, factual statement about the status of the situation 
  • Contact your suppliers to update them.

Learn more on communicating in a crisis

Step 7: Be prepared to be contacted by the media

If the media contacts you, it is advised that you defer media enquiries to your Tourism Crisis Management Group (TCMG). 

Alternatively, if you need to respond to the media, initiate your media protocols, including identifying key messages about the situation in consultation with your TCMG. Update these messages as the situation evolves.

If you are asked by the TCMG to talk to the media, it's useful to keep the following in mind:

  • Be factual and don't speculate
  • Be calm, reassuring and positive (try to avoid terms such as emergency and crisis)
  • Acknowledge the responsibility to visitors and community
  • Acknowledge the importance of visitor welfare (if appropriate)
  • If appropriate, empathise with the victims of the incident.