Collaborative Partners and Emergency Action Plans


It has been said that the best-laid plans often go awry. When we consider how to protect our association and our members we rarely include the service entities that will respond to an emergency in our facility. A quick call to each of your emergency responders at the beginning of the emergency action plan development process can reveal how to best work together with neither gap nor overlap. It can reduce your risk, improve effectiveness, and facilitate the development of important relationships.

When creating emergency protocols or an emergency action plan it is very important to include the use of outside sources. Outside entities such as Fire Rescue, Police and EMT will respond to emergencies that occur at your facilities. It is very important that they know as much as possible about both your physical plant and your emergency protocols. They may have specific suggestions or requests so that your and their efforts will not conflict or be redundant. It may be wise for them to have a copy of your protocol so that they know the actions that have been or should have been taken by the time they arrive. Listed below are some things to consider when creating your emergency plans to ensure you make the most beneficial use of outside services.

  • Have local EMS agencies review your plans. The experience they possess can be very beneficial, especially in the early planning stages.

  • Develop a plan in coordination with emergency response crews so that they can tell you where their easiest access points will be and how access to the facilities can be gained with as little difficulty for them as possible. Often plans are developed without taking into account the size and scope of emergency equipment; the emergency crews will be able to explain their best access to and egress from the facility.

  • Include your service responders and collaborative partners in your training activities. Outsiders can often bring a different perspective and real life experience that can prove invaluable. Substantial credibility can be added by an outside expert who is conversant in your protocols.

  • Include your service responders and collaborative partners in your emergency drills. This will allow emergency crews to become familiar with your facility and your staff so that they can react most efficiently in an emergency situation. It will also educate your staff in the best ways of cooperating with the outside professionals.

  • Consider the equipment that you will use for rescue within your facility, particularly any which may be used in conjunction with that used by outside emergency crews. For example, many aquatic facilities are equipped with backboards that are too wide to be used with typical ambulance cots. It is wise to seek advice from your local rescue organizations when purchasing equipment that may affect their efforts in responding on your premises.

  • Develop a mutual protocol that has the emergency responder leave the YMCA with back up equipment if the responder takes equipment from the facility. An agreement that allows the Y to briefly “borrow” the emergency responder’s equipment until their own can be returned will keep the YMCA ready to respond in case of another emergency.

Having a detailed emergency action plan in place is very important for any YMCA. It sets the stage for success or failure as to how your association will respond in an emergency. The additional assistance and collaboration with local EMS, Fire Rescue, and Police will give your association an added level of protection and stability in a crisis situation.

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.


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