Emergency Response Process

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.



A frantic landscaper from Missouri called me the other day to talk about a threat her company received from the ex-boyfriend of a female employee.  Apparently, the ex-boyfriend and female employee dated for an extended period of time.  Like most relationships, it ended; with someone’s feelings being hurt.  His.

The ex-boyfriend had recently been informed the female employee was now dating a male employee at the same company.  Consumed with jealousy, in tandem with other immature emotions like anger, vengeance, and rage, the ex-boyfriend posted a threatening letter on the front door of the female employee’s house declaring he was “coming to the company office to shoot everyone.”

Don’t worry.  No one got hurt.

Upon learning of the conveyed threat, the landscaper called me.  Not knowing if the main office and yard were “gun-free zones,” I reflexively offered the following three-step plan: 

  1. Lock the gate to the yard.
  2. Lock down the office and keep everyone inside.
  3. Call the Police to inform them of the threat.

I am glad to report, the gate got locked immediately, as did the main office.  Lamentably, due to Defund the Police budget cuts, the police did not respond to the call since no crime had yet been committed.

The ex-boyfriend never came to the company office.

The female employee was informed of the situation, made aware of the threat, and as it was reported to me, was never accosted by the jilted ex-boyfriend.

While this particular situation is unlikely to occur at your place of business, it certainly provokes contingency thoughts associated with various emergency response procedures.   Whether it is an active shooter, a fire, a series of “mostly-peaceful” civil protests that may lead to vandalism or destruction of company assets, a gas leak, a chemical release, a tornado, an earthquake, etc., it is incumbent upon the business owner and his/her management team to develop, implement, and practice effective emergency response processes.

I know.  I know.

Your company is too busy to deal with such a potentially rare circumstance.

Keep in mind, risk assessment balances two criteria:  frequency and severity.  That said, we can agree the possible emergencies identified above are traditionally “low-frequency/high-severity” events; events whose aftermath is usually characterized by the expression “if only we had known.”

That’s the point:  You never know!  That’s why it is called an “emergency!”

Adopting a pre-emptive mindset, indulge my recommendations:

  • Reach out to various business partners (e.g., workers compensation vendor, insurance broker, safety consultants) and local resources (e.g., police department, fire department, security firms) to assess your site and propose a “best practice” emergency response plan (e.g., mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery).
  • Institute an Emergency Response Team consisting of key executives, managers, office and field staff responsible for discussing, implementing, and specifying key roles and responsibilities inherent to the actual “best practices.”
  • Train your staff.  

Failure to do so, will only lead you to regret “if only we had known.”

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.