Service Organization Preparedness: Getting Started

Your organization plays a critical role in the community. Your clients rely on you every day – and during an emergency situation, your role will be even more important. Are you prepared to operate during a disaster? Here is a quick-start guide to get you on track.

Step 1 – Risk Assessment

The first step in planning is investigating what risks you must plan for. Identify potential disasters…

  • Natural hazards
  • Technological hazards
  • What are the effects of potential disasters on your operations?
  • What are the effects of disasters on your clients or those that rely on your organization?

Step 2 – How do you operate?

Identify what services your organization must continue in an emergency – both internally and externally. Make sure to include administrative concerns like payroll. What services must you receive from others?

Step 3 – Internal Planning

  • Identify what your organization needs to do to protect itself. Keep in mind your assets:

    • Personnel
    • Property
    • Records
    • Ability to function
  • Develop a business process flow chart. Use this to understand how your organization functions internally and what operations are critical to survival. Think about emergency payroll, expedited financial decision-making, and your accounting infrastructure.

  • Identify suppliers, providers, shippers, resources and other businesses you interact with, and develop relationships with alternate providers (understand their billing and payment requirements, delivery issues, ordering processes) in case your normal suppliers are incapacitated in an emergency.

  • Create a contact list that is stored in duplicate locations.

  • Assure appropriate storage of medical records and patient/client information.

  • Back-up information stored on computers. Consider off-site backup storage.

  • Determine your insurance coverage and associated issues.

Step 4 – External Planning

  • Consider how your services to patients/clients can be continued. Do you have adequate staffing levels available? Have employees been urged to prepare their families and homes for disaster? Your staff will work best for you once their own worries are addressed.

  • Have your patients/clients been prioritized for care? Are they prepared for disaster situations with backup supplies or other needed items?

  • Make sure that organizations and companies you receive services from have been part of your planning efforts, and make sure that you have been part of theirs.


  • Through it all, break down the planning effort into smaller parts, continually asking ‘what if…?’ questions

The Maine Emergency Management Agency offers workshops on operations continuity and emergency planning to service organizations. Interested? Contact us!