Suzanne Lucas

How to Handle an Office Emergency

Sooner or later, someone will have a health emergency at your office. Whether it’s an employee who has an allergic reaction or a visiting child who attempts to jump from the table to the chair and cuts her chin open, there could be an office emergency. Here’s what you need to do to be prepared:

Don’t be Afraid to Call 911

Err on the side of caution when a medical emergency comes up, according to the National Emergency Number Association. This is especially important if it involves a stranger, such as a customer. Strangers aren’t likely to tell you how dizzy they feel unless it’s a true emergency. Try your best to remain calm, and have one person on the line with 911 and another helping the victim.

Put Your Business Address in Plain Sight

Do you know the address of where you work? If you do the mail, you probably do, but if you don’t, you probably just know how to get there. If you need to call 911, reading the address and any other relevant information — like where you enter the parking lot — will be extremely helpful in getting emergency crews to your office.

Update Emergency Contact Information for All Employees

You probably had people fill out an emergency contact sheet when they were hired, but how many people have gotten divorced, married or started a new relationship since they were hired? This means that emergency contact information is probably outdated. Get everyone’s information up to date. Make sure multiple people have access to this information — it does no good to have emergency contact information if the only person who can access it may be out of the office when an emergency happens.

Have a Flexible Plan in Place

In case you need an ambulance, someone can go out to the entrance to help direct the emergency responders. That’s a great plan, but you need a backup strategy in case you’re short-staffed that day. You should have a first aid kit that multiple people know where it is and how to use it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has guidelines to help you develop a plan for any office emergency.

If you get everything organized now, you’ll be prepared when an emergency happens. That makes everyone safer.

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she interviewed and hired employees, managed the numbers and double-checked with the lawyers. Her writings have appeared in Inc. Magazine, CBS MoneyWatch, US News, Readers Digest and other publications. She focuses on helping businesses nurture great employees and helping employees enjoy great careers.