Are you ready for the unexpected? Steps to help develop an effective contingency plan

We all know that the unexpected usually happens at the most inconvenient times. Be prepared for these situations by working with a trusted partner to develop a formal contingency plan. A contingency plan will help your facility minimize downtime and reduce the risk of financial loss, liability and care disruption due to a loss of HVAC or electrical systems.

Having a contingency plan is more than making a list of the equipment that you will need to rent until your system is back online: it is preparing your facility to be rental-ready. You need to identify the risks and make sure that the necessary connections are in place so temporary equipment can be connected quickly. Then in your time of need, you can make one simple phone call that will spark immediate action to get your facility back up and running as soon as possible. The logistics will have been decided; now they just need to be put in action.

Some companies offer comprehensive programs to help healthcare facilities create contingency plans for their critical power and HVAC systems. The fundamental piece of the plan is an evaluation of the facility’s cooling and power systems to identify potential sources of failure. It also involves developing a blueprint to show where the connections are made, strategic placement of temporary equipment and how to deliver equipment. You are also encouraged to execute a contingency drill. Like a fire drill, this allows you to analyze all aspects of your plan and its execution to verify that it meets expectations.

Benefits of having an organized contingency plan:
–    Reduction of risks, costs and liabilities associated with downtime
–    Having a comprehensive process that identifies everything
–    Provides peace of mind to facilities managers and leadership teams
–    Demonstrates to leadership that your facility is prepared
–    May lower insurance rates

Contingency Plan Development Process:

 1    Financial Analysis:    Identify the costs due to an interruption in cooling, power and/or heat (costs include loss of business, inventory, and productivity). Help build the business case for development of the contingency plan.

2    Risk Assessment:    Identify and document the potential causes for an interruption. Rank these causes based on cost impact, probability of occurrence and system downtime.

3    Equipment Identification:   Tour the facility to identify all equipment that may suffer downtime during an event. Identify operating conditions of the equipment and system strengths/weaknesses.

4   Prioritization:   Evaluate the most critical building loads and process needs for essential operations and those with the highest financial impacts.

5    System Connection:   Identify locations for temporary equipment connections. Answer questions such as: What is the length and size of hose needed for water connections? How will the hose be routed for safety? What is the system pressure?

6    Power Availability    Determine if the power in the facility is capable of running the required equipment. How much power would be needed in the event of a power outage?

7    Electrical Connection    Specify location of electrical panels, needs for transformers, lugs, generators, etc. Also, identify a fueling plan for the temporary power generation equipment.

8    Temporary Equipment Location    In conjunction with determining the location of the water, duct and electrical connections, identify potential locations of the temporary equipment. Answer questions such as: Are permits required?  Does the equipment location cause any safety concerns? What will the security of the equipment be? What effect will the equipment have on traffic and/or pedestrians?

9     Plan Creation    Document the data in the Contingency Report and file it in a designated area. This report identifies roles and responsibilities, costs, building preparations needed and other details.

10    Implementation and Review    We recommend a leadership review of the contingency plan so that the proposed investments can be prioritized, resources allotted, the plan of action is established, support can be gained, and the plan can be formalized.

A successful contingency plan assigns responsibilities and provides training to personnel, including the communication team. The plan should identify vendors, contractors and sub-contractors, and clearly lay out steps and roles for when it is initiated. To reduce emergency reaction time, it is recommended that building modifications be made proactively to ensure minimal downtime in the event of an emergency. Finally, the plan should be evaluated on an annual basis and whenever there is a change in the facility. Contact your trusted business partner to begin development of your facility’s contingency plan today.