Creating an Effective Crisis Response Team in Your Healthcare Facility
Although healthcare facilities typically care for the sick and injured, they must also be prepared for crisis situations that may arise in their facility; incidents that are either introduced environmentally, or man-made. Crisis Response Teams are made up of skilled personnel that act as decision makers and liaisons during actual or potential crisis situations. With random influx of patients and a continuous turnover of staff that work in shifts, preparing a team that can respond to crisis situations can be a breath of fresh air during an emergency.
When building an effective crisis response team, assigning roles is the most important aspect. Each member should be able to know when, how and what they are responsible for. When members do not have specific roles assigned, it may lead to increased confusion, costing time and lives. For instance, you may have 10 staff and volunteers working to care for patients, but you may have no one communicating with first responders regarding their actions taken. Without assigned roles, staff and volunteers don’t know where to go or what to do to aid in the crisis.
Your crisis response team should be made up of key members that can adequately satisfy the responsibilities of their assigned role. The most widely used and common roles for a crisis response team stems from the nationally used and recognized, Incident Command System (ICS).
- Crisis Manager (Incident Command Manager) – This is your key decision maker during crisis situations.
- Crisis Coordinator- This individual ensures that members know their roles and responsibilities. They also organize meetings, and ensure that team members are coping with the crisis and rotate members as needed.
- Logistics Chief – Anticipates logistical needs, arranges staffing assistance and facilities such as relocation sites, and secures necessary supplies.
- HR Manager – This team member is typically the head of your healthcare facilities Human Resources Department. They provide support to staff during times of crisis.
- Family Liaison Coordinator – This team member manages contact with and provides support to families that are impacted by the crisis at hand.
- Media Coordinator – The media coordinator should develop a communications plan for key stakeholders and the media.
- Security Advisor – Typically a senior member of your security staff, the security advisor should advise the crisis manager and coordinator on security procedures. This individual should also act as a liaison with first responders.
- Record Keeper – The record keeper should keep meeting minutes and an active log book of events before, during and after the crisis.
Simply assigning roles and responsibilities is not enough to effectively handle a crisis. Your team members need to have training in their respective fields that they hold power in, and should often receive additional training as it becomes available and/or necessary. For instance, the security advisor should know the most up to date security features of your facility. Likewise, they should also be up-to-date on which features are currently not working properly, or have been disabled.
Creating a crisis response team for your healthcare facility is critical for preplanning for emergency situations. Often, facilities prepare for crises happening internally, but some emergency situations are out of human control, such as weather and pandemics. When these situations occur, crisis response teams step up to ensure that healthcare facilities continue to provide the safest care possible.