Lessons from Haiti

Posted by on Nov 11, 2010 in Emergency Preparedness | 0 comments

HAITI – What Did We Learn and How Does it Apply to Your Business, Your Town, USA?

Studies have repeatedly shown that more than half of all small businesses impacted by a natural or man-made disaster do not survive. The recent earthquakes in Haiti were a wake up call to us all. What did we learn?

First off, it is imperative that a business establishes a clear line of succession when the designated leadership is no longer available. This will ensure there is no confusion about who can make decisions for the organization. When disaster strikes, quick action and decision making is needed and having a pre-designated line of leadership can make all the difference in a rapid and effective response. This is particularly important for a business that has multiple locations.

Secondly, disasters to happen and they happen without our giving it permission to happen. Trying to convince the local community to protect themselves from a potential disaster often falls on deaf ears. Most are content to roll the dice on just how much time and money they will invest to protect their business, homes, communities, and themselves. How to improve listening AND action on what is being said, is still up for debate.

Next, it is clear people will continue to put themselves in harms way. Past disasters, such as the oil spill and Hurricane Katrina, have done little to sway choices made with resources such as money and time.  Government agencies whose job it is to communicate to the public about potential disasters, have to improve terminology. Terms such as “100 year flood” or “200 year earthquake” gives people a false sense of security regarding the risks they face.

Finally, having an emergency management plan/program (EMP) is critical in ensuring success and/or survival. Plans need to be in place and practiced, you cannot build a disaster response system that works at the time of the disaster. A national disaster response system cannot make up for a failed disaster planning at the local and state level. Katrina and the earthquakes in Haiti have poured over-whelming evidence to support this premise.

In closing, it has been repeatedly proven to people/businesses/communities, the time to start preparing for an emergency response during a disaster is sooner than later. Read/study the available information and put together a plan. Practice that plan. Get whatever resources needed, even if you have to start small and build. Again, what is critical is to just get started.

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