Your incident management team members are the first ones to rush to the scene of an accident, the ones to notify law enforcement and emergency services, and the first to assist any victims. Like any team, they need the right tools to help them do their job well, but because incident management can entail life-and-death situations, knowing what to say and do is not simply a matter of correctness or convenience, but of survival.
Let’s go through seven must-know incident management best practices that can set your team up for success.
What is an incident management team?
An incident management team responds to disruptions in regular operations at your business, event, or workplace. That disruption can take many forms, such as a fire, an active shooter, theft, abduction or a power outage. All of these situations require vastly different responses, and an incident management team needs to be clear on their responsibilities in order to manage each situation safely and effectively.
Members of a security incident team are trained professionals. Most states require security officers to undergo special training before they can partake in any security duties.
What does an incident management team do?
Some common responsibilities of an incident management team include escorting others to safety (evacuation), neutralizing a threat (including apprehending an active shooter or someone threatening physical violence), assisting any victims, collecting information about incidents and collaborating with law enforcement.
However, an incident management team doesn’t operate in isolation. Having an incident response plan should be a part of your overall security strategy. Besides responding to incidents, your team may also support incident prevention and provide education and training to employees, event goers, and others onsite.
Seven best practices to teach your incident management team
Being prepared at all times is the cornerstone of security. Here are seven incident management best practices that can assist your team with this preparation.
Instill the basics: emergency codes, evacuation procedures and action plans
Make sure new team members and seasoned security pros learn your emergency codes and evacuation procedures by heart. Some emergency codes are universal (code red), but many workplaces prefer to adopt their own variations to suit their needs. For example, check out this list of emergency codes adopted by the Hospital Association of Southern California.
In other words, your team should have an evolving but solid understanding of the basics before they can perform their duties.
Implement ongoing equipment training
If your incident management team is expected to use any sort of protective equipment, including weapons, schedule a quarterly refresher training. Practicing how to use the equipment, checking for wear and tear and going through safety procedures at a regular cadence can help your team develop a muscle memory for correct procedures before an incident arises.
Create a clear reporting structure
When the unexpected happens, you need your incident management team to know who is in charge of what and who reports to whom. Creating that structure ahead of time is the only way to avoid chaos during a stressful situation. That includes knowing how and when to loop in other stakeholders on your team or law enforcement. Similarly, your incident management team should have a clear set of procedures to follow after an incident takes place — for example, liaising with your PR and communications departments to inform others about the incident and working with leadership on any security remediations.
Your security personnel should be able to recall their reporting chain of command on a daily basis. Aside from initial training, consider additional recall exercises for new employees to ensure retention.
Conduct monthly security assessments
A thorough monthly overview of your work zone can help your team spot issues before they arise. The assessment could take a number of forms: Maybe it’s something as simple as finding out that a side door lock is not working and getting it fixed, preventing a potential intruder. It could also include checking equipment for any wear and tear (as noted above) and talking to others on-site about any security concerns.
Making your team visible and open to feedback from the community or other employees does double duty — you can build trust and prevent potential incidents simply by being present and vigilant.
Require and encourage continuing education
Security professionals have a plethora of continuing education options, which now includes VR training. But there are many other resources available through the Department of Homeland Security, including a free course on responding to active shooter situations. Check with your local and state government agencies for any further resources and required training.
Keeping your incident management team up to date on the latest trends and technologies is so much more than checking off a compliance requirement. It can help you retain talent that is eager to learn on the job and is prepared to rise to new challenges.
Ensure compliance by creating an incident management policy
An incident management policy gives your team a blueprint of action and a chain of command to follow when responding to an incident. Drafting an official policy also helps with compliance and gives your management a reference point when investigating issues or potential misconduct.
Aside from classifying incidents and laying out action plans, your incident management policy should clearly explain its purpose, define important terms and clearly assign roles and responsibilities. And above all, it should be easy to understand for someone without a law degree. Remember that your team will be referring to this document and should be able to grasp exactly what they need to do without wading through jargon.
Support your staff with the right tools
Supporting tools, like a robust incident management system, can help your team collect evidence, report data to law enforcement in accordance with regulations and respond to emerging situations more effectively. Depending on the nature of your operations, your incident management team could also benefit from body-worn cameras, modern CCTV cameras, non-lethal deterrents (such as TASER) and drones. Similarly, risk assessment software can help your team foresee and prevent disruptive incidents from taking place.
At Axon, one of our goals is to help security teams modernize their workflows through connected technology. If you’re searching for ways to make your incident management process more agile, let us know how we can support you.