Fire EngineOn Sept. 11, only 54 percent of companies had a formal disaster plan in place. Today 76 percent have one, but still don’t feel secure. Perhaps HR should step up to the plate. After all, the entire HR team plays a vital role in developing and executing comprehensive disaster plans and recovery strategies. For starters, we're responsible for ensuring the safety of employees during an actual event, meaning we're involved in disaster preparedness and emergency training, procuring emergency supplies, drafting evacuation plans for each location, and designating emergency responders. So we should be part of a cross-functional team that looks at a variety of "what if" scenarios and suggests ways to ensure business continuity by mitigating the impact of a disaster. Can work be shifted to an alternate location? Is it possible for employees to work from home, if they are unable to reach the office. We should be responsible for coordinating post-emergency assistance by liaising with community organizations, government agencies and support services (like EAP) and arranging transportation so employees can get home. HR should help designate a crisis management team and preserve business continuity through succession planning as well as training and development, so each location and business function has capable replacements. Finally, we should a formal communications plan, organizing call trees, and working with IT on data back-up regimens, so representatives have access to emergency contacts and employee data after a disaster.