Office Emergency Action
Employee and Employer Should Know
What is an Emergency Action Plan?
Emergency Action Plans, or EAPs, are the plans
every office must have in place to deal with emergency situations.
All employing offices in Congress, including every committee and
every personal office of a Member, are required by the Congressional
Accountability Act of 1995 to have an EAP. EAPs must be updated
regularly, and every employee should be familiar with their contents.
EAPs vary in complexity according to the size
and needs of the individual office, but all share at a minimum a
few common elements:
- Escape procedures and escape route assignments
- Procedures for staff who must perform critical
operations before evacuation (if applicable)
- Assembly areas for staff once outside of
- Procedures to account for all staff after
- Means for reporting emergencies
- Assignment of rescue and medical duties
- Persons to contact for more information
An EAP should also designate which employee(s)
is responsible for coordinating emergency response activities and
What Should Every Employee Know About EAPs?
As an individual, the first thing you should
do to prepare for an emergency is to maintain a basic knowledge
of your office’s emergency action plan. Read your office’s
EAP and find out who your office emergency coordinator is. If your
office does not have one, consider volunteering. Next, be sure you
understand how and when you might have to leave your office and
how you will know if that is necessary. Most importantly, be sure
you know how to exit the building, which exits and stairwells are
closest to your office, and where alternate exits are located if
the main exits are blocked or impassible. Last, be sure to know
where your office will gather once the building is evacuated.
Keep in mind that
not all emergencies will call for an evacuation. There may be certain
instances in which it is preferable to stay within the confines
of the office or some other safe area and shelter in place rather
than go outside. Be sure you are familiar with your office’s
plans for such a contingency and where you should go if you must
shelter in place.
What Should Every Employer Know About EAPs?
First and foremost, all Congressional offices
are required by law to have a written emergency action plan. It
is critical that all offices train their employees and ensure that
they are knowledgeable about the office EAP. Each office should
also designate an office emergency coordinator (or coordinators)
who can keep the EAP up to date, train staff in emergency procedures,
and help other staff during an evacuation.
Be thorough and comprehensive when planning the
office EAP and other emergency policies. Bare bones plans may meet
the minimum legal requirements, but there are many different contingencies
to consider. For example, in case your office is required to shelter
in place rather than leave the building, it is useful to keep a
basic supply of food and water on hand for staff. You may also want
to maintain contact lists of employees in case staff become separated
or need to be contacted at home. Also, consider making backups of
critical information (like computer files) and keep them off-site
in case an evacuation results in a prolonged absence from your office.
Where Can I Find Resources on Emergency
Planning and Creating an EAP?
For more information on emergency preparedness,
contact the Capitol Police and House or Senate authorities. District
offices are encouraged to contact local police and emergency preparedness
authorities for information about emergency procedures in your area.
If your office is in a Federal or state building, you can also contact
the General Services Administration (GSA) or the state agency responsible
for your facility. The Capitol Police can serve as a resource for
more general advice and assistance.
For more information on writing an EAP, contact
the Office of Compliance, or go to our access our online
instructions for writing an EAPs. We also have a form-fillable
template that allows you to quickly customize a plan for your