Designing an effective Emergency Action Protocol (EAP)

Designing an effective emergency action protocol/plan (EAP):

Designing an EAP is a daunting task. It is also a dangerous one. The person placed in charged of designing & implementing an EAP should have not only the courage to take action in times of crisis but the knowledge base to take the correct action.

They should be a trained, experienced, leader who is well versed in crisis management. They need to be surrounded by competent people who understand and will execute to the letter, the EAP when activated.

I say this somber truth in hopes that it will be heard. Far worse than no EAP, is an ill-conceived, poorly executed bad EAP.

A crew of people following a well rehearsed, well-communicated, bad EAP developed by committee and consensus will not fare well.

In a crowd of panic stricken people with no EAP. At least a few people with experience in crisis management may survive.

This is why so often, it is industry standard for EAP’s to be developed by 1st AD’s[i] with input from HOD’s and when applicable stunt/sfx/and professional rescuers[ii]


Beginning your EAP:

You must first sit and look at the job you are on and ask yourself what are the hazards? What is the worst-case scenario that I can envision? And of those worst-case scenarios, which are most likely to happen?


  • Where (what region) am I? Are there weather threats? Critter threats? Crime threats?
  • What activities will we be engaging in and what dangers are associated with them? Are we racing vehicles? My EAP needs to include MVA (motor vehicle accident protocols) as well as fire and fuel combustion protocols.
  • What resources do I currently have in play and are they sufficient to deal with the worst-case scenario? Is it time to seek out additional resources?
  • How well trained is my staff? What are their actual capabilities in times of crisis?


From there a written list of your realistic threats can be generated, and from that depending on threat and terrain, primary, secondary, and even third tiered EAP’s can be developed. Assess what will need to be done to ensure safety. What would be desirable to be done. And what would be the ultimate best outcome of the disaster. Assign a task list that’s been prioritized. Then assign a person to each task list.


Partial example of an EAP:

So suppose you’re a 1st AD employed on a reality show shooting in Texas on a ranch during the rainy season.

You have identified as a legitimate threat the possibility of flash flood.

1.)  Pre-shoot you have researched and understood that the primary cause of flash floods is slow-moving thunderstorms.

2.)  You understand flash floods can occur in minutes to hours after excessive slow moving rainfall.

3.)  You understand you are in a high-risk location with a past record of flash floods.


You have been made aware of a slow moving thunderstorm not too far away. You have activated a portion of your EAP and your second AD’s primary focus is media monitoring.


You have notified your 2nd 2nd that a portion of the EAP has been activated. You make him aware of the threat “Flash Flood”.


Your Key-Set PA has begun a radio cross-channel broadcast of the potential EAP.


Because you were aware of this danger the Contestants and the crew are aware of your primary rally point and your 2nd 2nd has already begun to assemble a caravan following proper caravan procedures.


You are all (AD Team and HOD’s) aware of the details of the EAP and potential problems with flash floods. They include:

  • Crew and equipment could become trapped or stranded.
  • Escape routes may be damaged and/or blocked.
  • Equipment & personnel could be covered by water, mud or debris.
  • Drowning
  • Electrocution
  • Mud slides


And it happens. Your 2nd AD alerts you that the national weather service has issued a flash flood warning for your area. You make a decision. It’s time to activate the “Flash Flood” EAP.


The Key PA begins the cross broadcast confirming all HOD are aware the Flash Flood EAP is in effect. All crew without designated with emergency response roles

Are to report to the “Primary Rally Point” where trained AD/PA’s are following proper caravan procedures and taking charge of the crew.


According to your EAP the emergency response roles are:

  • Secure equipment and all electrical power.
  • Remove all Contestants and crew from elevated equipment.
  • Remove all Contestants and crew from set.
  • As the 1st AD receive the transport plan from your crew chief, is all of your crew accounted for?

Your actions as the 1st AD are in accordance with your EAP:

  • Get in the lead vehicle with your crew chief. As planned your route steers clear of potential slide areas next to hillsides or edges, or cliffs!
  • As you follow your planned route you come across moving water of an indeterminate speed and depth.
  • You order your crew chief to direct the caravan to the secondary route.
  • You arrive at your “safe” destination (hotel/shelter area).
  • You, your crew chief and your drivers take a final reckoning of your contestants and crew numbers and either turn them over to emergency services as needed or sequester them to the safe area until further notice
  • The first AD makes contact with the highest ranking non-present member of the company to deliver a situation report and request resources for either evacuation or makes a plan to continue the shoot later based on the latest weather reports.


Department Heads (HOD’s) and Safety guidelines:

In closing, perhaps legally a company and certain representatives are more “responsible” for safety. But at the risk of sounding clichéd, safety is no accident.


  • HOD’s are expected to read, understand, and comply with our safety guidelines
  • HOD’s are expected to indoctrinate their subordinates into our safety guidelines and ensure adherence to stated guidelines.
  • HOD’s are encouraged to discuss openly with the 1st AD or EIC ideas or amendments to the safety guidelines.
  • HOD’s are obligated to report violations of the safety guidelines to the 1st AD or higher if satisfaction is not achieved.



1.)  I took excerpts directly from the “Team Hogan training manual/Safety  Section”

2.)  I drew heavily on my experiences as both a graduate of the DGAPTP/ADTP (Directors Guild Producer Training Plan/ Assistant Director Training Program) as well as my experiences as a NYC AEMT-P (Lic. # 174942).  The DGA 1st AD position sets the bar for safety standards on set.

3.)  I also utilized the DGA’s website Document/Safety as a resource.

4.)  CSATF/AMPTP; the CSATF is a resource for bulletins and current safety information across many spectrums

5.)  The American Red Cross & OSHA OSHA/CA guidelines were used to develop first aid kit

6.)  My experiences on set were used to develop the first aid kit



[i] According to Warner Brothers “Safety responsibilities of 1st AD” (

[ii] According to “The Complete Film Production Handbook” focal press 2001

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