Build a SIRT Program

Complex organizations need to plan for how their crisis management program will scale across every site they operate.

You’re Only As Good As Your Least Trained People

Which is why how your distributed sites handle incidents matters for your overall organizational resilience. My preferred method of addressing an organization-wide framework that accounts for local leadership and local control with centralized governance is what we call a SIRT program. 

What’s SIRT?

At most sites, it’s the same team who would make decisions in an emergency and then transition the site to crisis management. Making them one team in a continuous operation is efficient and leverages an approach that is focused on strategy and leaves more tactical response to local emergency responders.

The purpose of a SIRT Plan is to establish a process that will allow coordination and decision-making at the site when an incident develops that could eventually become a crisis for the company. It includes guidance on how management of incidents at the site integrates with other response efforts and structures across all levels of the organization.

Why site?

  • Site is a general term that refers to any facility owned or operated by an organization.
  • It’s easier to scale for a global presence than the term “office” or “facility” since most organizations have a mix of facility types.

What do we consider an incident?

Any emergency or crisis situation that poses potential or actual harm to employees or the community, or company assets, including reputation.

(If you’re like me and you’re a word nerd, you can check out our constantly updated Glossary for more information and definitions)

    And why incident and not emergency response?

    • Emergency implies sirens and has a limited tactical duration and response.
    • Emergency is equated with emergency responders, and in a corporate/business setting outside of a complex facility, we don’t want employees taking the role of emergency responders.
    • Incident allows for a single point in time.
    • It does not get confused with the fire department or the police department response.
    • Incident builds a better system for being proactive rather than reactive.

    What does SIRT handle?

    • Incidents that occur at a site. Depending upon the level of the incident, the SIRT for the site can handle the incident up to the level at which it impacts the greater organization. That’s when regional and business-unit level Crisis Management teams would be activated and step in to assist or take over.
    • A SIRT program’s audience includes:
    • Employees through development of employee-facing emergency procedures, evacuations, and site closure actions
    • Employee safety volunteers (floor wardens)
    • Vendors, and visitors at the site
    • Strategic Level: Leadership of the site
    • Tactical Level: Physical security, HR, and facilities partners

    Three critical questions for activation of a SIRT:

    1. Have employees been seriously harmed or is there potential for harm?
    2. Could the incident interfere with the ability to operate?
    3. Is there potential for negative news media coverage or community backlash?

    Typical actions a SIRT takes

    1.Supporting the emergency response

    • People’s safety always comes first!
    • Evacuation/shelter-in-place decisions
    • Provide guidance and instructions to protect people
    • Get medical help for victims
    • Immediate communications
    • Interface with Local Responders: police, fire, or ambulance
    • Site open/closure

    2.Assessing the situation

    • Asking critical questions: What is the situation? What is the threat level? What is the impact to the organization ?What are we doing about it?

    3.Activating resources

    4.Conducting meetings to determine actions

    • How to help people
    • How to protect property
    • How to protect the reputation of the organization
    • How to recover business operations

    5.Communicating decisions and actions

    • People associated with the organization (FTE, contingent workers, vendor partners, etc.)
    • Organization Leaders: notifying appropriate resources like regional and business unit teams based on the situation.
    • Local authorities
    • Building management or neighboring tenants
    • Media: Provide information to corporate communications and manage local media
    • Government officials or regulatory agencies
    • Families of victims or staff members

    6.Transitioning to further Crisis Management and Business Continuity

    • At the point where the incident does not resolve and requires greater resources, the SIRT transitions the response to business unit and overall organizational crisis management teams.
    • Support damage assessment
    • Report data needed to business continuity/return to operations

    7.Deactivating the SIRT

    • Stand down the team
    • Schedule and conduct an After Action Review focused on:
    • What could be improved?
    • What changes need to be made to plans and protocols?
    • Take care of SIRT members and advocate for their needs for aftercare or further support

    The creation of a SIRT program takes planning and sometimes a culture shift within the organization. We can help guide you through making sure every layer of your organization and every site in your network is ready to contribute to organizational resilience.