With the onset of Hurricane Irene and the subsequent damage and destruction left in its wake, we are all reminded how critical disaster planning is to our well being as individuals, communities, and businesses. Our previous blog entry provided information from the National Weather Service National Hurricane Center that can be applied to any number of natural disasters and should be review and be developed into your own disaster plan, both personally and professionally.
We would like to encourage professionals who have influence at the corporate or agency level to use the events and media coverage of Hurricane Irene as the catalyst to make planning for disasters a business priority. Let’s face it – we all have short memories, so the time to act is now!
If you are in a business that was adversely impacted by Hurricane Irene, you are not exempt from this call to action. Of course the first order of business is to mitigate the effects of the event on your company/agency, its employees, and its customers. If you had a comprehensive emergency/disaster plan in place, you should be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. For you, this is the time to do a “lessons learned” assessment to find out what worked and what didn’t.
- What should have been considered that wasn’t?
- What were the failures or missed opportunities in planning or execution that need to be addressed?
- Was it a plan failure?
- Was it a training, or communication failure?
- Was it an individual failure?
- Would additional training or a table top exercise have made a difference?
- What things worked really well and how do we capitalize on these successes?
- Were the successes due to good planning, the right people, advanced preparation and training?
The focus must be on a collective review and must include professionals from different disciplines within the organization. Lessons learned should not be about pointing fingers or finding fault; the purpose is to use the event to strengthen the ability of the agency or firm to prepare for future events. Time is money, and natural and “man-made” disasters suck the money out of companies. The “blame game” is a waste of time and money and does nothing to mitigate any future losses the company may experience during a future event. If that requires an outside moderator, spend the money – it will be an investment in the future of the organization.
If you were a company who was not directly impacted by Hurricane Irene, you were lucky this time. What about Hurricane Katrina, the tornadoes in Alabama and North Carolina, or the tsunami that hit Japan? What about a fire in a neighboring business that damages your facility? This should still be a wake-up call to pull out your emergency/disaster plan and make sure that you have a dynamic plan that would have met your need in a hurricane or other event. It may be time to do an assessment to evaluate the current risks associated with your organization. Some of the questions you may want to ask are:
- Is the risk assessment that you based our plan on still relevant?
- Have conditions changed?
- Are the risks that you are preparing for based on real threats and quantified by probability and criticality?
- Do you know what processes or functions are critically important to your organization?
- If your worksite were destroyed, do you have a back-up site that you can relocate your operations to?
- How long could you afford to be down before you resume operations at the temporary/new site?
- Are there single points of failure that have not been addressed?
- Contact lists are only as good as the information on them. Are contact lists, policies and procedures, and emergency equipment up to date?
The list goes on and on. The point is that now is the time to make this a priority. It is fresh in everyone’s mind and has given you a window into what could have been.
So what is your organization doing to better prepare itself for those event that we hope will never happen? What kinds of networking are you doing to learn how other professionals are doing to mitigate the same challenges that you face? What “best practices” have you integrated into your program?
Plan. Protect. Prosper.
Protus3 specializes in security system design, security consulting, corporate investigations and other investigative services. Partner with Protus3 and we will examine each situation to identify threats and develop solutions for your best outcome.