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September is Emergency preparedness month and there was probably never a time that this was more important. Most of this planning has the focus of government at different levels, healthcare facilities, first responders and we as individuals. Unfortunately for most organizations the day to day struggle takes most of our effort.
The reality for any organization is that this actually falls in line with our Health and Safety, the Environment and – YES – even with our organizational operational/business practices. For those of you who have implemented the ISO 9001:2015 requirements – or who expect to – risk management is not only identified – it is promoted. While there is extensive and detailed information available for risk management, most of us may just need to address the common sense practices that are specifically identified for ISO 9001:2015. The best way to address risk management is – think about it.
For most of us the circumstance that lands the emergency at our feet – or at our doorstep – is unusual. Yes but – what were the people of Fort McMurray thinking when someone first smelled smoke. The real world has a way to outdo anything we can imagine. Just a little preparation can make a difference – even lifesaving.
We’re going to try and provide a little structure for some of the practices that should help with your needs regardless of whether you’re operating a machine shop or a hospital – or anything in between. This could include your common day-to-day activities… or it could be used to identify and deal with those once in a lifetime situations that potentially face any organization.
Every year on the anniversary of “9/11”, I learn something new. It seemed quite amazing at the time – Sept 11, 2001 – but the New York stock exchange was back up and running within days of this tragic event. The ability to carry on business brought back some sense of normalcy very quickly. The “head” of the New York stock exchange had been preparing for such an event for years and after an initial dip, stocks came back. These events may seem to be distant past and perhaps even more distant from our daily efforts. The truth is even the simplest act of preparedness may benefit in ways we cannot even imagine.
Emergency management should be considered one more arm of your organization’s operating system. Organizations have planned for how they could continue operations under extreme conditions. This included work at distance (home), cross training, identification of key operating functions, etc. What processes within the organization are essential for minimum operations? The point is we can manage or we can become victims. The victim doesn’t have to be the person – but the organization.
“Risk” is the effect of uncertainty on objectives. Emergency management requires the evaluation and understanding of this emergency context for the organization and the risk present. The clarity of the actual or potential situation allows for the ability to prevent, mitigate or respond. Emergency management should be addressed as a system in a comprehensive and disciplined manner. Understanding the contingencies that may be considered and the potential internal risk that exists within the organization – and the external risk that comes from the world around us.
In Part 2 of this article we’ll look at a simple methodology to provide just a little structure…
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