Monday Matters! – Workplace Emergency Preparedness: Complex Terrain Challenges


Whether you work in a small business located in a local industrial park, a corporate campus complex or in a high rise office building spanning multiple floors, there are distinct challenges when planning for emergencies and responding to disasters. Business workplaces by and large can be considered complex terrain. The use of the term “complex terrain” in the context of emergency preparedness and disaster response goes far beyond the physical aspects of the business location and includes the impact of the disaster on the organization. In a very real sense it includes, but is not entirely limited to:

  1. Preservation and sustainment of life
  2. Continuity of business operations
  3. Security of corporate assets
  4. Safeguarding and mirroring data
  5. Critical infrastructure protection
  6. Key personnel assignment and utilization
  7. Vendor, supplier and contractor logistics
  8. Employee separation from their families and homes
  9. Victimization of the workforce by the disaster
  10. Finances and availability of cash
  11. Viable communications
  12. Recovery from the disaster

Which area is priority #1 for you in your workplace? We believe this answer is pretty much governed by your perspective, level of engagement with the private or public sector organization, and one’s level of leadership responsibility or ownership position.

The resiliency of an organization adversely impacted by disaster can be measured by how its “human capital” or people endure and recover. This factor can in most instances be directly tied to the “bottom line”.  Recently we became acquainted with Personal Recovery Concepts and its President and CEO Ann Coss who specializes in organizational resiliency.  Ms. Coss was gracious enough to provide us with permission to share a recently published white paper that puts a very strong light on the “people” component of organizational resiliency. You’ll find this paper to be an informative read: The Impact of People Continuity on Organizational Resilience.

As we reflect on the 5th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina and its devastation of the Gulf Coast region of the United States, we can only hope our nation’s private sector has learned how to better prepare, and more importantly how to implement an effective recovery process from a catastrophic disaster. ICE PACK researchers recently located the document LESSONS LEARNED FROM HURRICANE KATRINA: Preparing Your Institution for a Catastrophic Event” prepared by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council”.

On the tragic day of September 11, 2001 our company had employees on air travel throughout the country. When the terrorist attack was realized, every airliner traveling in US airspace was immediately grounded and some even re-routed to Canada. Far from their intended destinations and strewn literally across the US and Canada, we were suddenly faced with a number of employee’s with no means to either return home, or get to their destination. We then had an obligation to insure that our employee’s were safe, availed to food and lodging, could establish communication with their families, and arrange alternate transportation when and where possible.  For our company this was an emergency situation, for thousands others far less fortunate and especially those that lost their lives, it was a catastrophic disaster. May God bless the souls of the 9/11 victims and comfort their families.

Private sector organizations should consider resiliency as an integral part of their overall business plan. Whether faced with an emergency or catastrophic disaster, being prepared may well be the difference between enduring the event, and never re-opening the business.

Prayers and condolences are extended to the families of those Gulf Coast residents who lost their lives during Hurricane Katrina and to the families of those who perished on September 11, 2001, at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and at the Pennsylvania plane crash site.


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1 Emergency Preparedness Perspectives from Corporate Offices | Emergency Preparedness News { 12.20.10 at 4:24 pm }

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