Prioritizing Access to Vital Records
If you have identified your vital records, the next logical step would be to rank them as a Priority. The establishment of priorities allows you to determine the required levels of access you need to those different categories of vital records in an emergency or disaster. A simple system of using A, B, &C will help you decide which records need to be kept closest to your daily operations and which records should be duplicated or stored offsite for safety.
Priority A vital records are records needed at your emergency or disaster response site. This site is the location that has been preselected and listed in your Business Continuity & Disaster Plan. It is the site where most of your personnel and records will be located, at the actual time of, or just after the emergency or disaster. You will need immediate access to these records and you will then, most likely move them from the disaster response site to the emergency or disaster recovery site.
Priority B vital records will also need to be at the emergency or disaster recovery site. (This is the location where you will relocate immediately after an emergency or natural disaster.) This will be your point of operation, during the recovery phase of the emergency or disaster.
Priority C vital records should be stored in an offsite location sufficient distance from your base of operations to reduce the chance they will also be damaged in the same emergency. These records need to be safe, but are not needed immediately to recover operations. Example: Your business or organization is located in a coastal area of your state. Your paper records and copies of any vital records, could be stored in a facility, more centrally located, in your state. Digitally stored information is often times stored in another area of the country.
Vital Records Priority A
Immediately required to support emergency business continuity and operations.
Examples: Business Continuity & Disaster Plan, Facility plans & drawings, core procedures and or regulations, Emergency Contact list, Confirmation of personnel security and access authorities.
If these records are paper records they should be stored near the physical disaster response site. Duplicates should be stored in a secure, offsite location. Duplicate electronic records for immediate access to critical information in an electronic format.
Vital Records Priority B
Essential for the resumption of normal business after an emergency or disaster.
Examples: Current contracts or agreements, Current contact list for stakeholders and/or business associates, current client information, schedules.
Store paper records close to the disaster recovery site to support the resumption of operations. Duplicate copies should be stored offsite.
Establish processes for restoration backups of vital electronic records quickly.
Vital Records Priority C
Essential for legal or audit purposes but not immediately required in an emergency or disaster situation.
Examples: Existing but non-current contracts or agreements, unaudited financial records
Store paper records or electronic copies securely, in a safe location outside of the business area to make sure records are safe and accessible when needed.