Share to:

Preparedness begins with an Emergency Response Plan

Being ready for what could happen doesn’t just happen

September is National Preparedness Month, and a great time to recognize the need to always be ready for severe weather and other emergencies.

At Service Management Systems (SMS), one of our 24/7 goals is to observe the Scout Motto: Be Prepared. Just as a Boy or Girl Scout spends several years learning and implementing the required skills to always Be Prepared, the employees at every SMS location consistently learn about safety and emergency preparedness and strive to implement systems and protocols that allow us always to Be Prepared in an ever-changing and always challenging environment.

As the U.S. grows more crowded with more severe weather extremes, these facts confirm why this approach becomes more critical every year:

  • The 2023 mid-year U.S. population is about 339.7 million, with an annual growth rate of 0.7%. According to the U.S. Census Department, coastal population has soared to 29% of the U.S. population, and the population growth rate in counties along the hurricane-vulnerable Gulf of Mexico increased by 150% between 1960 and 2008.
  • The number of disasters has increased by a factor of five over the past 50 years. These events are becoming more expensive, but thanks to improved early warnings and disaster management, the number of deaths has decreased almost three-fold, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WMO graphic below illustrates U.S. 2022 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters:

U.S. 2022 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters

From 1970 to 2019, weather, climate, and water hazards accounted for 50% of all disasters. Storms (54%) and floods (31%) were the most prevalent cause of recorded disasters. Storms were linked to the greatest loss of life (71%) and economic losses (78%). The U.S. accounts for 38% of global economic losses caused by weather, climate, and water hazards. Wildfires are also on the increase, as are man-made tragedies such as mass violence.

SMS provides housekeeping and/or maintenance services at various major public-facing facilities in 31 states, as shown on the map below, including many locations along the U.S. East Coast, Gulf Coast, and West Coast. Additionally, the West Coast is a region where earthquake procedure is also an essential element of Preparedness.

Service Management Systems facility service location map

For all emergency-related situations (severe weather, natural disaster, or a building-specific incident), SMS has an Emergency Response Plan designed to protect the safety of all SMS employees. This also includes a work plan to safely clean up the facility after the emergency has passed (dependent on our individualized agreement with each customer).

"We not only strive to prepare our team members through ongoing training, we also ensure the training is put into practice through our OPS360 quality assurance platform," said Ashley Shultis, SMS Quality Assurance and Administration Manager. "Our monthly Safety Inspection Checklist aids in identifying any facility or structural hazards prior to an emergency or disaster occurring, so we can communicate these issues to our customers for correction."

SMS trains on Emergency Preparedness as a detailed monthly Safety Matters Training Topic every year. The plan is reviewed and discussed in site-level staff meetings at all SMS locations and includes the following topics (with a tiny sample of its content):

Before a severe weather emergency

  • Tracking Weather Conditions
  • Emergency Safety Teams
  • Response Teams
  • Preparing Your Staff
  • Communicating with Your Customer
  • Activating the Emergency Response Plan (ERP)

During a severe weather emergency


IMMEDIATELY notify all staff via walkie-talkie radios or satellite phones that there is an IMMEDIATE threat to the facility. Communicate that team members should IMMEDIATELY TAKE SHELTER in the closest designated safe area and must remain sheltered in place until they have been given instruction that the emergency is over.


TAKE SHELTER. As you are reporting for your staff to take shelter, you and those around you should also be finding shelter in the closest safe area. Avoid windows or glass doors. Move toward the interior of the building.

FOR FLOODING: If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building. Do NOT climb into a closed attic/area. You may become trapped by rising floodwater. Do not walk, swim, or drive through floodwaters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.


VERIFY that all team members are safe, and that the emergency has passed. Assess the situation to determine next steps before giving the All-Clear call.

After an emergency

  • Facility Clean-Up Efforts (upon customer request)

Whether it’s a beautiful late-summer day in September, a blustery snow day in January, or an unstable April day with an air mass ripe for tornadic weather, it’s always important to Be Prepared for the next emergency.

Get Started with SMS

If you'd like more details on a true Emergency Response plan, contact us today!

Contact Us