Emergency Response Plan

Abnormal Procedures

Eddie sez:

If you are running a flight department or any other organization (like a domestic home), you really need an emergency response plan. If you don't have one, allow me to offer a generic one to get you started.

You can download this word document to get you started: Generic Emergency Response Plan. Be advised that this document needs to be customized to your operation.

Our flight department has had an Emergency Response Plan for about ten years now. We run "table top" exercises every few years to make sure it is up to speed. Most of what is here comes from that plan and a few other sources that I've plagiarized from liberally. I'll list a few of these below in the References.


Photo: Ambulance from "Hot Shots!"
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Last revision:


Emergency Response Plan

What you can do now

[USF, p. 5]

  • Keep enough emergency supplies in your office or car (medication, flashlight, comfortable shoes, bottled water, food, batteries, portable radio, etc.) for up to 72 hours in case of a serious emergency.
  • Post these emergency procedures information in a visible location in your office or work area.
  • Become familiar with quickest evacuation routes from your building.
  • Locate the nearest fire extinguisher and pull station. Register for a fire-extinguisher training course.
  • Register for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first-aid, crime prevention, or other safety training courses.
  • Prepare a plan for yourself and your family specifying what to do, where to go, and how to cope until you are able to get home. Designate an out-of-state relative or friend to act as a contact for separated family members.

Aircraft Accidents

If you have aircraft, your emergency response plan needs to include what to do in the event of an aircraft accident or mishap. This guidance comes from the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA).

Guiding Principles

Crewmembers involved in an accident or incident are responsible for complying with the procedures in this section of this manual. Any Acme LLC representative dealing with an emergency situation should be guided by the following general priorities:

  • Protect and give comfort to the living. Do whatever can be done to facilitate the treatment of the injured or to attend to the emotional needs of the family.
  • Take appropriate measures to protect company property.
  • Follow the immediate notification procedures.

General Guidance [NBAA]

Aircraft accidents are complex and unfortunate events that require a deft personal and corporate response. A company’s first and highest responsibility is to the families of those involved in the accident. Every appropriate provision for their comfort and accommodation should be considered, assigned and acted upon first, prior to internal company or public comment. Company management should take steps immediately to notify the families, offer counseling and other support, make needed arrangements and keep them informed.

The primary sources for information regarding the aircraft, crew and passengers involved typically are internal and can be obtained from sources such as flight department records, flight department personnel not involved in the accident, company human resource departments or personnel departments. The leadership of those departments should be contacted at the outset. Legal counsel, public affairs and investor-relations personnel, and insurance providers also should be contacted immediately.

Aircraft accidents often generate acute levels of public and professional scrutiny previously not experienced by management, in an area outside their expertise. Although this attention typically is long-term as an investigation unfolds, the broader public’s interest usually is ephemeral. The early acknowledgment of and stated regret for an obvious tragedy, responsibility for the families of those involved in the accident, and a demonstrable corporate attitude of proactive cooperation with investigating authorities are highly recommended. The public’s perception of a company’s professionalism in the wake of a crisis often significantly influences public and shareholder opinion of the company’s competency.

Ultimately, safety is the responsibility of company management, from the CEO down, and it should be treated as a fundamental matter of the company culture. Management should articulate in writing a strong, permanent and visible commitment to safety. Past aircraft accident investigators have noted that the implementation of corporate safety standards for air transportation often effectively prevent most accidents before they occur.

In the event an accident does occur, company management should have procedures in place to help them respond to the crisis quickly and effectively. The following sections recommend specific actions that company representatives should (or should not) take in the aftermath of an aircraft accident. They also identify the facts company representatives should know about the accident and about business aviation in general in order for them to answer likely press and public inquiries successfully.

Company Response After an Accident [NBAA]

After an aircraft accident has occurred, company management and public affairs personnel must deal with several issues. As noted above, a company’s first step always should be to accommodate fully the family members of those involved in the accident. Next, company personnel should be prepared to answer questions posed by aviation authorities, the media and/or the general public related to the trip’s purpose and itinerary, the aircraft involved and other related factors. The type of data most frequently requested by authorities is identified below; companies should have such information on hand as an investigation unfolds. Please note, however, that companies should not answer certain questions posed by the media but instead refer them to outside authorities.

Accommodation of Family Members [NBAA]

Never forget that a company’s first and highest responsibility is to the families of those involved in the accident. A company should anticipate and answer their needs first, prior to internal company or public comment. Company management should take steps immediately to notify the families, offer counseling and other support, make any necessary arrangements and keep them informed. To keep families informed, the company should assign each of them a liaison in a long-term role.

Notification of Company Personnel [NBAA]

Company leadership and legal counsel as well as human resources, flight department, public affairs, investor relations and press relations personnel should be notified of an accident as soon as possible following the incident. After such notification and by prior arrangement, further management of this issue would then be assigned to a response team of the company’s design. Only one specifically assigned response team member should communicate with the media regarding the accident. This “sole source” media contact should be identified company-wide, reducing the likelihood of uninformed commentary.

Notification of Insurance Providers [NBAA]

The company’s insurance carrier should be contacted as soon as possible after an accident. Additionally, since some insurance providers have their own accident response procedures, company personnel should request such information from the provider and use it in conjunction with this memo.

Probable Cause of an Accident [NBAA]

Do not speculate about the cause of any accident at any time. Company personnel should make no comment regarding the “probable cause” of an accident. Moreover, not only should companies not comment on the probable cause, but they should not comment on the investigation at all, i.e., what was or was not found.

By federal statute, the jurisdiction of investigation and the finding of a probable cause for accidents involving aircraft of U.S. registry is the responsibility of the National Transportation Safety Board, an independent agency of the federal government headquartered in Washington, DC, with nine regional and field offices located throughout the United States. Company management should refer all inquiries regarding the probable cause of an accident to the Office of Public Affairs at the NTSB at (202) 314-6100.

Accidents involving loss of life often will involve the dispatch of an NTSB “Go Team,” which will travel rapidly to the site to direct the accident investigation. Aside from immediate public safety concerns at the crash site, the NTSB alone has the jurisdiction and authority to command an accident investigation and issue a probable cause finding. No other agency or authority – federal, state, municipal or local – should or can comment responsibly on the probable cause of an accident.

For accidents that the Board investigates, all questions regarding the aircraft and its contents, crew, passengers, air traffic control personnel, local weather conditions at the time of the accident, or any additional issues relevant to an accident eventually will be commented upon officially by the NTSB.

At the Board’s discretion, some accidents involving only property damage will not have an NTSB investigator travel to the accident scene. Although FAA investigators may go to the accident site, these accident investigations are still under the oversight of the NTSB and, therefore, questions concerning these accidents should be directed to the appropriate NTSB regional or field office.

No company personnel should comment on the probable cause of an aircraft accident for several reasons. First, the jurisdiction for determining probable cause is the NTSB’s alone. Second, speculation may adversely affect a company’s legal liability with regard to the accident. Third, accidents typically are complex events not completely understood until after at least several months of analysis are completed, if then. Company personnel rarely are qualified accident investigators, a unique specialization. Consequently, initial comments and conclusions by accident observers frequently are in error, typically confusing the issue or worse.

Bomb Threat

It is important to compile as much information as possible. The receiver of the threat should NOT attempt to notify or evacuate an entire building as this could take valuable time that would be better used to gather information on the nature of the threat. It is important to keep in mind that the vast majority of threats are false and are primarily intended to elicit a response from the building occupants. In the event that the threat is written, it is vital that the document is handled by as few people as possible as the document is evidence and it should be turned over to the police. If the threat is received via email, make sure that the information is saved on your computer. As most threats are transmitted over the telephone, the following instructions are provided with that assumption in mind.

[USF, p. 8]

  • Remain calm and immediately refer to Telephone Bomb Threat Checklist. If applicable, pay attention to your telephone display and record any information shown in the display window.
  • The objective is to keep the caller on the line as long as possible to attempt to gather as much information as possible. Try not to anger the caller at any time.
  • While engaging the caller, try to pay attention to any background noise and distinctive sounds (traffic, machinery, other voices, music, etc.) that may provide clues on caller’s location.
  • Note any characteristics of the caller’s voice (gender, age, accent, education, etc.).
  • Attempt to obtain information on the location of the device (building, floor, room, etc.).
  • Attempt to obtain information on the time of detonation and type of detonator.
  • At the conclusion of the call, immediately call 911.
  • If the threat was left on your voice mail, do not erase.
  • Notify the immediate supervisor within your work area.


Most California agencies recommend that if you are indoors, stay indoors, if you are outside, stay outside. I suppose that really depends on the building codes in the area you find yourself in. If you think the buildings are built to withstand an earthquake, inside is the place to be.

[USF, pp. 11-12]

  • If you are indoors:
    • Stay inside until the shaking stops.
    • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there is not a table nearby, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
    • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
    • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
    • Do not use the elevators.
    • If you are in a stadium or arena: Stay at your seat and protect your head and neck with your arms. Do not try to leave until the shaking is over. Walk out slowly watching for anything that could fall in the aftershocks.
  • If you are outdoors:
    • Stay there.
    • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
    • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops.
  • If you are in a moving vehicle:
    • Stop as quickly as safely possible and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
    • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
  • Next:
    • After the shaking has stopped, evaluate your surroundings. Look for safety hazards such as fire, smell of gas or fumes, dangerous debris or obvious structural damage. Look for injured or trapped people.
    • If you are in a building and there are no obvious hazards, do NOT evacuate.
    • If the structural integrity of your building is compromised or your surroundings are hazardous, evacuate. Use the stairs. Assist in the building evacuation of people with special needs.
    • Determine if emergency responders are needed. If yes, dial 911.
  • More information:
    • Expect aftershocks. These secondary tremors are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the initial earthquake.
    • Take steps to account for people. Work with Building Marshals to assemble at designated assembly areas and determine if everyone is present, including employees and guests.
    • If the building was evacuated, there should be an evaluation of the building to address any damage. Do not re-enter the building until this has been completed.
    • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for latest emergency information.
    • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
    • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested.
    • Open cabinets and doors cautiously. Beware that objects may have moved during the shaking.
    • Clean up spilled liquids (bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids) immediately if you are trained to do so. Leave the area and call 911 if you smell natural gas or fumes from other chemicals.


[USF, p. 13]

  • Get out of the building as quickly and calmly as possible. Call 911.
  • If items are falling off of bookshelves or from the ceiling, get under a sturdy table or desk.
  • If there is a fire, stay low to the floor and exit the building as quickly as possible. Activate the building fire system, if possible.
  • If you are trapped under debris, tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are.
  • Assist others in exiting the building and move to designated evacuation areas. Keep streets and walkways clear for emergency vehicles and crews.
  • Untrained people should not attempt to rescue people who are inside a collapsed building and should wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
  • Once outside, move at least 150 feet away from the building and proceed to the designated area for evacuation. Keep roadways and walkways clear for emergency vehicles.


A fire may include visible flames, smoke, or strong odors of burning. The appropriate emergency action is for people to evacuate the building quickly and safely and call 911.

[USF, p. 14]

  • For the person discovering the fire:
    • Manually activate the fire alarm system. If it is safe for you to attempt to extinguish the fire:
    • Remain calm and RESCUE anyone in immediate danger.
    • ALARM – pull the nearest fire alarm.
    • CONTAIN the fire – close all doors but do not lock them and call 911.
    • EXTINGUISH the fire only if you can do so safely and quickly.
    • RELOCATE – evacuate the building, if necessary
    • After the fire is extinguished, call 911 if you have not already done so.
  • For occupants of the building:
    • Close but do not lock the doors to your immediate area.
    • EVACUATE the building via the nearest exit. Assist others in exiting the building.
    • DO NOT use elevators.
    • Avoid smoke-filled areas.
  • For persons evacuating from the immediate fire area:
    • Feel door from top to bottom. If it is hot, DO NOT proceed; go back.
    • If door is cool, crouch low and open the door slowly. Close door quickly if smoke is present so you do not inhale it.
    • If no smoke is present, exit the building via the nearest stairwell or exit.
    • If you encounter heavy smoke in a stairwell, go back and try another stairwell.

Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT)

A hazardous materials incident may be a spill or release of chemicals, radioactive materials, or biological materials inside a building or into the environment. The user may manage simple spills if they are adequately trained to do so. Major spills or emergencies require assistance from 24-hour emergency services.

[USF, p. 16]

  • Simple spills should be cleaned up by the person that caused the spill if they are adequately trained to do so.
  • Major spills or emergencies:
    • Dial 911.
    • Evacuate, assemble at a safe distance, and communicate with any arriving first responders.
    • Account for all individuals.
    • Wait for, and provide, information to responders.
  • The decision to call for emergency assistance may be made by the user, a person discovering an incident, or the responders receiving the call for assistance.
    • Determine if emergency responders are needed.
    • Determine if immediate hazards are under control and the situation is stabilized.
    • Determine if the site can be reoccupied or if further remediation or repair is needed.
  • The decision that an incident is controlled and stabilized is made by the emergency response agency (local fire department, Environmental Safety Office, or a HAZMAT Team).


In Hawaii, a hurricane watch is issued whenever there is a good possibility of hurricane conditions of damaging winds, surf, and flooding rains occurring anytime within 36 hours.

A hurricane warning is issued when there is a high probability of hurricane force winds occurring anytime within 24 hours.


Photo: Hurricane Rita
Click photo for a larger image

[Hurricane Preparedness]

  • Securing inside homes and businesses:
    • Tape glass windows on the inside with large Xs to reduce shattering. Draw drapes and blinds as added protection. If glass windows have not been boarded or taped, attach a cloth over the inside of the windows to protect from shattering. (Taping of windows will not protect them from breaking but will lessen the hazard of flying glass.)
    • Wedge sliding glass doors with a brace or broom handle to prevent them from being lifted from their tracks or from being ripped loose by wind vibrations.
    • Unplug all unnecessary appliances. Shut off gas valves.
    • Turn refrigerators and freezers to coldest setting. Do not open unless necessary. (This is done in case power is lost during the storm.)
    • If you are going to evacuate your premises shut off electricity at main switch, and gas and water at their main valves.
    • Package your valuables such as jewelry, titles, deeds, insurance papers, licenses, stocks, bonds, inventory, etc. for safekeeping in waterproof containers. Take these valuables with you if you are going to evacuate your premises.
  • Securing outside homes and businesses:
    • Take down canvass awnings or roll them up and lash them with sturdy twine or rope.
    • Board up windows using lumber securely fastened.
    • Check door locks to assure that they will not blow open.
    • Check outdoor items that might blow away or be torn loose. Secure these items as best as possible or take them indoors.
    • Store chemicals, fertilizers, and other toxic materials in a safe section or secure area of the premises.
  • Recommended home survival kit:
    • Portable Radio, Flashlights and Extra Batteries
    • First- Aid Kit
    • Special Medications (Prescriptions and others)
    • 5 to 7 - Day Supply of Non - Perishable Foods
    • Hibachi with Charcoal and/or Camping Stove with Fuel
    • Manual Can Opener
    • Matches or Lighter
    • Disposable Plates and Kitchen Utensils
    • Water - a gallon per person per day for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene needs. It is important to have available good water containers for any water-interruption situations. Four to six gallon water containers are readily available in stores.
    • Extra Pet Food
    • Store water (bathtubs, rubbish containers, washing machines, etc.) for toilet use.
    • The time to prepare your kit is before you need it.
  • Recommended evacuation kit:
    • Bedding (Blankets, Sleeping Bags, etc.)
    • Change of Clothing
    • Special Medications and Dietary Foods
    • Important Papers and Documents
    • Infant Necessities (Formula, Diapers, Baby Food, etc.)
    • Personal Toilet Articles and Sanitary Needs
    • Non - Perishable Snacks for 1 - 2 days
    • Portable Radio, Flashlights and Extra Batteries
    • Water - 2 quarts per person per day for drinking
    • Be sure to provide for your pets as they will not be allowed in shelters.
    • Note: If you evacuate, leave a note for those absent - starting time, destination and telephone number.

Suspicious Package or Object

If you receive or discover a suspicious package or foreign device, do not touch it, tamper with it, or move it. Dial 911.

[USF, p. 6]

  • Suspicious packages are not limited to those delivered by a commercial or U.S. postal carrier. The U.S. Postal Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms have designated the following characteristics as indicators of suspicious packages:
    • Lumps, bulges, or protrusions on package
    • A lopsided or heavy-sided package
    • Excessive tape
    • Handwritten addresses or labels from companies (check to see if the company exists and if they sent a package or letter)
    • Packages wrapped in string
    • Excess postage on small packages or letters
    • No postage or uncanceled postage
    • Handwritten notes such as “To Be Opened By…”
    • Restrictive markings such as “confidential” or “personal”
    • Improper spelling of common names, places, or titles
    • Generic or incorrect titles. Titles with no name attached
    • Oily discolorations or crystallization on wrapper
    • Protruding wires, string, tape, etc.
    • Hand delivered or “dropped off for a friend” packages or letters
    • No return address or nonsensical return address
    • Foreign mail, air mail, and special-delivery packages
    • Any letters or packages arriving before or after a phone call from an unknown person asking if the item was received
  • Packages or Letters Containing a Powdery Substance or Anthrax Threat:
    • Immediately secure and evacuate area. Move people away. Do not move or open the package. Do not investigate too closely. Do not cover or insulate the package.
    • Turn off ventilation.
    • Thoroughly wash hands, remove clothing, and place clothing in plastic back.
    • Do not return to area until cleared.


Terrorism is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian populations, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) may potentially be deployed by terrorists and can be categorized into five groups using the acronym CBRNE – chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive.

[USF, p. 21]

  • Evacuation: Be prepared to evacuate your home or workplace if circumstances require it. Follow the steps in your personal Family Disaster Plan to be sure you have the necessary items with you.
  • Listen: Keep calm and listen to the radio / TV for official news updates. Stay indoors until notified by the Public Information Officers that it is safe.
  • Decontaminate:
    • Minimize contact with all outside surfaces.
    • Remove contaminated clothing and jewelry as soon as possible and place in separate, sealed plastic bags.
    • Wash exposed skin with soap and water and shampoo hair.
  • Seek Care: If exposure is known or suspected, report to the nearest medical facility as directed by public health officials for evaluation and treatment. Inform the staff you may be contaminated.
  • Assist Others: As circumstances and your training permits, assist others in your building or neighborhood. Depending on the magnitude of the incident, assistance from emergency services personnel may be significantly delayed. Preparing beforehand by seeking training through the American Red Cross, the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT), or other organization can provide a valuable community service.


Generally speaking, a tornado watch means conditions are right for a tornado. During a tornado watch, you should be alert to weather conditions. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted or if there are radar indications that a tornado may be possible. Tornado warnings normally are given 3-15 minutes in advance of a tornado.

[USF, pp. 28-29]

  • Remain calm and avoid panic.
  • Go to an area of safety.
    • Rooms and corridors in the innermost part of a building
    • Avoid windows, corridors with windows or large freestanding expanses.
  • There is no guaranteed safe place during a tornado. However, it is important to seek shelter in the best location to help minimize your exposure.
  • DO NOT use elevators during a tornado warning.
  • Persons with mobility concerns should go to an area of safety at the time of a tornado watch. DO NOT wait for a tornado warning.
  • Close all doors, including main corridors, making sure they latch.
  • Crouch near the floor or under heavy, well-supported objects and cover your head.
  • If outside, lie down in a low-lying ditch and cover your head.
  • Be alert for fire. In the event of a fire, the fire plan should be utilized.

Violent Incident

Violent incidents, including but not limited to acts of terrorism, an active shooter, assaults, or other incidents of workplace violence can occur on campus or in close proximity with little or no warning. An “active shooter” is considered to be a suspect or assailant whose activity is immediately causing serious injury or death and has not been contained.

[USF, pp. 22-25]

  • Leave the area. If possible, your first action should be to leave the area if you feel it is safe to do so. Always try and escape or evacuate even if others insist on staying. Work to encourage others to leave with you but do not let them slow you down if they decide not to. It is important to remember to leave behind any belongings. Once you are in a safe area, try to prevent others from walking into the danger zone and call 911.
  • If you can't leave, secure the immediate area.
    • Lock or barricade the door, if able. Block the door using whatever is available – desks, tables, file cabinets, other furniture, books, etc.
    • After securing the door, stay behind solid objects away from the door as much as possible.
    • If the assailant enters your room and leaves, lock or barricade the door behind.
    • If safe to do so, allow others to seek refuge with you.
  • Take protective actions:
    • Close blinds.
    • Block windows.
    • Turn off radios and computer monitors.
    • Silence cell phones.
    • Place signs in interior doors and windows, but remember the assailant can see these as well.
    • Place signs in exterior windows to identify your location and the location of injured persons.
    • Keep people calm and quiet.
    • After securing the room, people should be positioned out of sight and behind items that might offer additional protection – walls, desks, file cabinets, bookshelves, etc.
  • If you find yourself in an open area:
    • Immediately seek protection.
    • Put something between you and the assailant.
    • Consider trying to escape, if you know where the assailant is and there appears to be an escape route immediately available to you.
    • If in doubt, find the safest area available and secure it the best way you can.
  • Call 911. Be prepared to provide the operator with as much information as possible such as:
    • What is happening.
      • Specific location and direction of assailant.
      • Number of assailants.
      • Gender, race, and age of the assailant.
      • Language or commands used by the assailant.
      • Clothing color and style
      • Physical features – height, weight, facial hair, glasses, etc.
      • Type of weapons – handgun, rifle, shotgun, explosives, etc.
      • Description of any backpack or bag.
      • Do you recognize the assailant? Do you know their name?
      • What exactly did you hear? Explosions, gunshots, etc.
    • Where you are located including building name and room number.
    • Number of people at your specific location.
    • Injuries, if any, including the number of injured and types of injuries.
    • Your name and any other information as requested.
    • Try to provide information in a calm, clear manner.