A building's reception desk is the information hub to all of its operations. It is not only a place to check in for your appointment, but it also can become vital in an emergency. During an emergency, the receptionist receives pertinent information about the situation and disseminates that information to its proper recipient, bringing about a swift and proper conclusion to the incident.
At the onset of an emergency, the receptionist becomes an incident commander, and his desk becomes an incident command center. In order to function properly during emergency procedures, all of your essential tools should be nearby. Periodically test your phone, paging system and radios to ensure that they are all functioning properly. Inventory your emergency supplies, such as a first-aid kit, AED, oxygen bottle, flashlights and blankets. Make sure you have adequate supplies of note paper, pens and pencils at hand. An emergency procedures manual should be available, along with quick-reference check sheets to use during an incident.
Once an emergency presents itself, prioritize what is and is not an immediate concern to be dealt with. For example, you may receive a phone call from an employee requesting a security officer to escort her to her car. Your response should be along the lines of, "Security is involved in an emergency situation at this time and is not able to assist you; it would be better if you could ask a co-worker to escort you."
Immediately open your emergency procedures manual to the appropriate section, and reference it any time you are not completely sure of what to do. Follow your written procedures in the order they are listed, and try and stay calm. This helps reduce the chances of any errors on your part.
Monitor all priority communications and assist in relaying important radio traffic to the appropriate people. Stand by to notify the police or fire department.
Continue monitoring ingress and egress to your property, allowing for better access control during the emergency. This can be done through watching video-monitored entry points as well as checking individuals for proper ID upon entry and exit. Stay current on your visitor log book, checking individuals in and out as needed.
Pay attention to your immediate reception area, looking for any suspicious people or items. Report anything out of the ordinary immediately.
When police and fire officials arrive, assist them by having an escort waiting at your desk to direct them to the emergency scene. If an escort is not available, give them a simplified map for directions. Be prepared to assist authorities with evacuation procedures if necessary.
After the incident, make sure you complete all necessary report documentation. This helps the company with liability issues and to improve on future emergency procedures.
Joe Gerz is a public safety writer in Arizona. His articles have appeared on eHow.com and Examiner.com. His career spanned 20-years in safety and security management. He wrote training and procedure manuals for 10 years starting in 1997. Gerz studied Criminal Justice at Phoenix Community College.