Emergency Preparedness: The First Response Command Plan

In recognition of National Preparedness month, SDI’s Bil Vermette addresses the value of emergency plans to an organization:

Emergency preparedness is important in both our private and public lives. According to ready.gov: “The actions taken in the initial minutes of an emergency are critical. A prompt warning to employees to evacuate, shelter or lockdown can save lives. A call for help to public emergency services that provides full and accurate information will help the dispatcher send the right responders and equipment. An employee trained to administer first aid or perform CPR can be lifesaving. Action by employees with knowledge of building and process systems can help control a leak and minimize damage to the facility and the environment.”

For public and private high-rises – as well as schools, hospitals, campuses and public arenas, it is especially important to have a formal and well-communicated emergency plan for your property. Typical emergency plans provide instructions for responding to various man-made and natural emergencies, including fire, earthquake, severe weather, bomb threat, and active shooter.

The plan provides useful, critical information for the tenants, building management and even visitors to the building. Along with the full emergency plan for the internal use, it is recommended to have a plan for the First Responders as well.  Such a plan provides a concise summary of accurate building information to expedite the police and fire department first-responders’ decision-making during emergency response.

SDI’s First Response Command Plan combines what may be several emergency plans into one since some buildings have multiple ownership and usage.  The Plan was designed by firemen for firemen that the first responder can use to initiate an emergency response. The Plan includes contact information for the building’s manager, Life or Fire Safety Director, security and engineering personnel.  It also includes vital building life safety information, including a map of the area for staging purposes, lobby floor plan, and floor plans of typical and atypical floors – all in a mobile format so that the responders can take with them to the affected floor(s). SDI’s First Response Command Plan is designed in a consistent format so that it can be easily accessed during an emergency.

Both building Emergency and First Response Command Plans play key roles in ensuring timely decisions are made with the best information possible – when seconds count and lives matter.

SDI’s Real Estate Team provides emergency preparedness and evacuation planning services for over 110 million square feet of property throughout the US. Contact SDI to assist your organization with its emergency plans.


Bil Vermette is a High-Rise Life Safety Consultant with SDI’s Real Estate practice. Bil has created and maintained First Response Command Plans for over 75 buildings in and around Chicago in coordination with the Chicago Fire Department. Bil also leads the SDI team in maintaining high rise emergency plans for over 30 buildings in downtown Chicago, including Willis Tower and the Aon Center.