How to Prepare Your Business for Medical Emergencies: Essential Steps

Imagine this: you’re hard at work when suddenly a coworker collapses and goes unconscious. Their breathing is shallow, and they are not responding. Do you know the precise steps to manage this life-threatening situation? Having a clear emergency action plan could mean the difference between a tragic outcome and a happy ending.

As an employer, you are responsible for taking reasonable precautions to keep your team safe from workplace hazards and risks, and that includes medical crises. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get prepared. Follow these crucial steps to ready your business for any health emergency that may strike.

Get the Right Training  

First Line of Defense: CPR and First Aid Certification

Your first line of defense is making sure key staff members are up to date on CPR and basic first aid training. Look for courses certified by the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or other nationally accredited programs. Ideally, you’ll want a few people per department or shift trained and certified so that there’s always coverage. 

These life-saving skills ensure your team is prepared to provide immediate care for injuries, breathing problems, choking, and other common emergencies until advanced medical help arrives. Then renew certifications every year or so, as recommended.

Go the Extra Mile with Advanced Training

Businesses in higher-risk industries, like manufacturing or construction, also benefit from advanced first aid instruction. Courses on controlling severe bleeding, immobilizing fractures, and treating burns or toxic exposure give your response team vital capabilities. EMT and paramedic training provide the highest level of emergency medical readiness.

Schedule Practice Drills  

Of course, knowing the techniques is only part of the equation. Your trained staff also need regular practice to stay sharp and act calmly under intense pressure. Set up periodic mock drills that simulate crisis scenarios to evaluate your emergency response plan in action. Role-play different roles, walk through the communication channels, and use prop equipment.   

Following this, critique what went well and where your team could improve next time. You want those critical first aid skills to become second-nature muscle memory for your responders.

Stock the Right Response Gear

Every Second Counts

When a medical emergency happens, you don’t have time to hunt around gathering the right response gear. This is why it’s crucial to assemble dedicated first aid kits and emergency equipment beforehand. You will want multiple kits positioned at strategic high-traffic locations around your facilities.

What Should Go Inside?

Well-stocked first aid kits contain all the essentials needed to provide initial care, including bandages, gauze, antiseptics, CPR masks or barriers, splints, blankets, and cold packs. OSHA outlines minimum required contents for workplaces, but you may want to level up with more advanced supplies. Consult a healthcare expert on customizing kits to suit your specific worksite hazards and needs.

Don’t Forget the Defibrillator

One essential every workplace should have on hand is an automated external defibrillator (AED). These user-friendly devices apply life-saving electrical shocks to restart a heart stopped by sudden cardiac arrest. AEDs are easy for non-medical responders to operate correctly, talking you through the steps. When someone’s heart stops, every minute without defibrillation decreases their odds of survival by ten percent.

Assess Onsite Hazards

Identify Key Worksite Risks

Preventing medical crises in the first place should be your chief priority. Tour your facilities with a critical eye toward pinpointing any uncontrolled physical hazards that could lead to injury or illness on the job. Common culprits are slip/trip hazards, lack of safety guards, improper chemical handling and storage, and confined spaces.

Initiate Control Measures

Once you have catalogued the major risk factors, move to reduce hazards through proper engineering controls, safe work procedures, and effective PPE. Train all staff on identifying hazards in their areas and empower them to report issues immediately. Develop detailed emergency plans for worst-case scenarios like fires, hazmat incidents, weather disasters, violence, or catastrophic equipment failures.

Evaluate Emergency Systems

Does your team know how to promptly shut down equipment and processes in case of an emergency? Do you have backup power supplies in place for essential operations? What about a designated storm shelter, fire suppression systems, hazmat containment controls, or equipment to rescue injured workers from hazardous areas? Routinely evaluate and service all contingency measures.

Create Solid Incident Protocols

Have a Comms Strategy

When a medical emergency strikes, you don’t want team members scrambling and shouting conflicting instructions. Outline a clear chain of command detailing who makes decisions, manages the scene, accounts for personnel, communicates status updates, and oversees on-site response efforts. 

Determine notification protocols for alerting other departments, taking control of emergency stations, securing the scene, clearing obstacles for emergency responders, and contacting families. Practice executing the protocols smoothly during drills.

Coordinate With Outside Responders  

If outside medical response will be needed, work closely with your local fire/EMS providers when developing your emergency action plan. Share site maps and hazard info so they know where to position resources. Assign point people to meet and escort crews to the incident scene. Know your facility’s closest emergency treatment centers and their trauma capabilities.

Don’t Neglect Mental Health

While physical injuries make medical preparedness vital, do not overlook the mental health aspects either. Traumatic incidents like serious accidents or violence on the job can take a heavy psychological toll. Make counseling resources available for all affected workers. Furthermore, be ready to re-evaluate protocols around emotionally devastating events, too.

Keep Documentation Up to Date

In the chaos of an emergency, having all the proper documentation organized and readily accessible is crucial. Keep detailed records of all employee certifications, training drills, hazard assessments, and incident reporting. Maintain a primary list of emergency contacts, including supervisors, medical professionals, hazmat responders, utility providers, and more. Review and update this documentation annually at a minimum. Consider storing digital backups offsite for extra preparedness. With accurate, current documentation at your fingertips, you’ll stay compliant and be able to respond most effectively.


With some upfront planning and preparation, your business can stand ready to respond swiftly and effectively to any medical crisis. Take these essential steps to safeguard your most valuable assets – your team’s health and safety. When the unexpected happens, you’ll have the right tools, people, and procedures in place to provide care and prevent tragedy.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.