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Guide to ERT Job Descriptions

  • 29 July 2015
  • Author: WebTeam
  • Number of views: 8845




Section 6 of OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.38 (c) requires that organizations with more than ten staff members have a command structure that takes charge in the event of an emergency. Some organizations have chosen the Incident Command System (ICS) which is common to police and fire departments throughout North America to meet this requirement. Having your Emergency Response Team (ERT) follow this type of structure will help streamline internal communications, coordinate actions with public safety officials, and promote good relations with the media.



Introduction to ERT:


The Institute for Medicine recommends that all ERT members as well as general staff receive training on how to medical emergencies such as a cardiac arrest. Local training courses on dealing with cardiac arrest can be found at: .

Organized by roles, the top ERT decision maker is called the Incident Commander. This person reports to management and directs the organization’s response to the emergency. While this position is sometimes filled by the head of the organization this is not always the case. Often, a staff member may have special experience or skills that make them a better choice for the role of Incident Commander. When possible, it is advisable to have a second person prepared to assume this role should the primary incident commander not be available at the time of the emergency.

Following the ICS model, the other ERT members are organized into five areas of responsibility as shown below. In smaller organizations the same person may perform more than one of these activities.




While not shown on the command chart, Safety Wardens are key members of the ERT. During the emergency their efforts are focused on tasks such as helping evacuate a building and not on incident management. Safety Wardens report to the Safety and Security Manager.


To maintain their efficiency, all ERT members should receive at least annual training on their role in an emergency. A listing of typical job responsibilities for each member of the ERT follows.





Incident Commander Responsibilities:

This role is responsible for determining the severity of the emergency and overseeing the appropriate response. Other responsibilities include:


  • Helps develop the Emergency Action Plan using information gained from the previous training exercises and up-to-date hazard and vulnerability assessments.
  • Oversees training plan for the ERT and other staff members.
  •  Monitors possible emergency situations (e.g., approaching hurricanes).
  • Determines the level of response needed to manage an emergency situation.
  • During an emergency, briefs management on the ongoing situation.
  •  Documents the nature of the emergency and the response effort.
  • Decides whether to put all or some of the elements of the Emergency Action Plan into effect.
  • Mobilizes needed resources including members of the Emergency Response Team.
  • Coordinates internal response activities with First Responders, both public and private.
  • Assumes responsibility for the organization’s response.
  • Establishes a command and communication center (if necessary).
  • Manages the ERT staff during the emergency.
  • Supervises recovery or damage assessment efforts with onsite First Responders.
  • Works to ensure a return to normal operations as soon as possible.
  • Decides when to declare an end to the emergency and issues the all clear signal.



Communications Officer Responsibilities:

 This individual advises management on how to respond to media and stakeholder inquiries. This person(s) consolidates facts and periodically releases status information to the public. This role reports to the Incident Commander and indirectly to management. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Preparing background information on the organization for quick use during an actual emergency.
  •  Trains management and staff on how to deal with media inquiries.
  •  Provides current and accurate information to staff members and their families.
  • Helps monitor media and press perceptions of the organization.
  • Officially declares that an emergency has occurred.
  •  If an emergency is declared, devises an incident-specific Communication and Media Plan to management for approval.
  • Works closely with the Incident Commander to stay abreast of the developing situation.
  •  Acts as the primary point of contact for all stakeholder inquiries including the media.
  • Periodically briefs management and staff members on the status of the response.
  •  Provides external stakeholders and the media with accurate and appropriate information on a timely basis.
  • Works to maintain an accurate and positive image of the organization during the emergency.
  • Coordinates all communications using both standard and social media outlets.
  •  Follows up after the emergency to help manage perceptions of the organization and its operations.


Finance and Administration Chief Responsibilities:

 An emergency may trigger an urgent need to purchase materials or spend money in other ways such as arranging for a temporary workspace or rental equipment. The Finance and Administration Control Chief is the person responsible of initiating and supervising these actions. This position reports to the Incident Commander. Other responsibilities include:


  • Contributes to the development of the emergency action plan.
  • Works on plans with vendors and business partners outlining how they will response to requests during an emergency.
  • Establishes purchasing guidelines and spending controls which can be put into action during an emergency.
  • During an emergency, coordinates the budgeting and spending of any money.
  • Tracks expenses and documents any damage incurred during the event.
  • Advises management on the impact of the emergency on cash flow.
  • Works with insurance companies, municipal finance, federal aid, and other groups to ensure ongoing access to assistance programs.
  • Reviews and approves any extraordinary spending, up to pre-designated limits, during the crisis.
  • Prepares an impact analysis report for management detailing the financial impact of the event.


Operations Chief Responsibilities:

The Operations Chief has responsibility for minimizing the impact of the emergency event on day-to-day business. This includes communicating information to business partners, clients, regulators, and other stakeholders. All public communications should be coordinated with the Media Liaison. This position reports to the Incident Commander. Other responsibilities include:

  • Reviewing possible operational responses as outlined in the emergency action plan.
  • Develops work-around strategies and mitigating responses to various types of disruption.
  • Oversees ongoing operations during the emergency with the goal of meeting the mission of the organization throughout the period of disruption.
  • Coordinates staff assignments for the duration of the disruption or until relieved.
  • Works closely with facilities management and landlords (if appropriate) to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
  •  Manages the post-event assessment team who must determine the extent of damage to operations by the incident.
  • Oversees repair or other contractor work for the duration of the emergency or until relieved.



Safety/Security Chief Responsibilities:

This individual advises management on how to respond to media and stakeholder inquiries. This person(s) consolidates facts and periodically releases status information to the public. This role reports to the Incident Commander and indirectly to management. Specific responsibilities include:


  • Oversees the recruiting and training of Safety Wardens.
  • Acts as a subject matter expert to those developing the emergency action plan.
  • Helps insure a safe and secure working environment at the original worksite as well as any alternative locations put into action for the duration of the emergency.
  • Ensures that work safety is not compromised during the emergency.
  • Oversees compliance to safety regulations and standards during the emergency.
  • Is responsible for developing, implementing, and managing a security plan.



Safety Wardens (Optional):


These volunteers report to the Safety and Security Manager and perform a number a non-managerial jobs including:


  • Directing staff and any visitors to safety along the evacuation route.
  • Determine if the immediate area is completely evacuated.
  • Insure that doors and windows are closed but not locked.
  • If someone is unable to leave an area, that Safety Warden should provide support and assistance. If additional assistance is needed, the situation should be reported to the ERT and any First Responders in the area (example: Fire Department personnel). 
  • If a staff member needs assistance in moving or overcoming an obstacle, only Safety Wardens with proper training should attempt to move this individual. If no one has this training, efforts should be made to quickly get help from a First Responders.
  • After appropriate training, shutdown critical services (e.g., gas) before evacuating their area.
  • When reporting to their assigned station, retrieve and bring emergency first aid equipment to the assembly/shelter area.
  • Before leaving their assigned area, check offices, restrooms, closets and other areas to ensure that everyone has moved to safety.
  • Having verify that everyone has evacuated the area, report the status of their area to the Safety/Security Chief. Assuming they have the training, help arriving First Responders by directing traffic.

·       Be available to help First Responders with other tasks such as search and rescue.

·       If a Safety Warden has any special language skills (e.g., sign language, speaking knowledge of another language, etc.) they should make this skill known to their immediate manager who will go through the chain of command to notify the Incident Commander and First Responders.



Documents to download

Categories: Emergency Planning