Imagine that the power has gone out, or the snow has piled up quickly, with several managers and an entire shift of workers still working in the plant. What happens next? In the first few minutes of a crisis, it is of critical importance that you already have an established plan ahead of time, because without one in place, a panic could very easily ensue. Here are the first four things that must be done in order to secure the safety of everyone involved.

1. Gather Knowledge

You can’t even begin to figure out what to do in a crisis without first knowing what that crisis is. Figure out whether the disaster is natural or man-made, and what the source of it is. Get out your crisis management plan, and follow it as closely as possible. Remember that the plan was put together when you had a cool head, and your judgment was not affected by adrenaline and fear.

2. Establish Roles

This part may come during the information gathering. Reaffirm roles assigned in the crisis management plan. This includes reminding each person what he or she is to do for the duration of the crisis. Establishing roles can help everyone cope with the situation emotionally by giving them something to do, in addition to having a more organized way of dealing with the emergency at hand. For example, each assembly line crew may be designated as a group, with the line leader as the person who liaises with the management team in a crisis. She is a representative for the group, creating a flow of communication and providing organization.

3. Communicate with Your People

Once roles are established and information gathered, you must speak to the group. This crucial task goes to the most senior staff member present. Reassure the workers, reaffirm sub-leadership roles and disseminate information in a non-threatening way. Rely on the sub-leaders to keep their individual groups intact. The leader will need to focus on exit, survival, and safety.

4. Secure and Safety

A security team must be among the roles assigned. These will be the people sent to determine the safest way to exit, and to ensure that anyone left unoccupied maintains a safe demeanor. In fact, the leader’s goal should be keeping everyone safe and secured until the crisis is over. It is crucial at this stage to know as much as possible about the crisis, and how to counteract it (and how quickly).

Oftentimes, the leaders will perform these four things without thinking about them. That is great, if it works. Other steps, procedures and roles must be undertaken next, but these first must be performed in order to successfully and safely alleviate the emergency. These first steps help to minimize panic, set up an organization plan, and allow an opportunity to gauge the situation. All of these are vital for the work to come in the crisis situation.

Eagle Technologies is a leading provider of Factory Automation and Process Validation, located in Bridgeman, Michigan.