WHITEPAPER on the INTEGRATION of a BUSINESS EMERGENCY PLAN FROM the binder on the shelf INTO the culture of an organization.
BERT – Emergency Operations Management is a disabled American veteran – owned company.
Wm. F. “Bill” Cunningham, Jr.
“A business emergency plan which consists of the information held in a binder on a shelf, even with the best of intentions, is doomed to abject failure if it is not incorporated into the culture of that business.”
Addressed to Executives
- From the American Red Cross Preparedness Survey, 2006, “Close to 60% of Americans are wholly unprepared for a disaster of any kind.”
An Emergency plan is a staple of any business. Question: Is your plan integrated into the culture of your business with the same respect as any other aspect of a business’ plan?
Let’s address that with a sample parallel to any company’s Receivables plan. In it there are policies and procedures to dictate to whom and how credit will be granted, at what point interest will begin to accrue, and when does management need to become involved? Procedures are in place so that expectations are managed and employees can be given a certain level of autonomy.
Any competent employee will refer to the procedure manual less and less as they become proficient. Shortly, the manual will only become necessary to research unusual situations or train new people. In other words, the information included in it unconsciously becomes integrated.
Question: On a one to 10 scale, what is the integration level of your home/business Emergency Plan?
From The Aftershock of Katrina and Rita: Public Not Moved to Prepare, 2005, “54% of Americans don’t prepare because they believe a disaster will not affect them.”
In a theoretical tabletop emergency, which is a large part of training, it is asked, what would the most likely scenario that your neighbor would face? Why? Because the majority of people do not dwell on disasters or emergencies for themselves. Positive, useful business plans are much more comfortable to consider. And, we all want to be positive in our dealings. However, by integrating emergency plans, staff and family become empowered and the thought of something unusual happening elicits much less fear. Ignoring potential challenges will not make them disappear any more than considering and planning for them will bring them upon you.
From the American Red Cross Preparedness Survey, 2006, “82% of Americans agree, ‘If someone could make it easy for me to be prepared, I’d do it’ ”.
A GOOGLE search for “emergency plan” results in over 45,100,000 results in .31 seconds. This is information overload that can result in a general level of planning paralysis. Consultants can charge many hundreds of dollars per hour. And, the thought of lost “employee time” is uncomfortable at best.
“Do something; do not become part of the problem.” From the Class Curriculum
From the Insurance Information Institute, 2000, “15-40% of businesses fail following a natural or manmade disaster.”
From the American Red Cross and FedEx Small Business Survey, 2007, “94% of small business owners believe a disaster could seriously disrupt their business within the next two years.”
Insurance Office of America (IOAUSA.com) is the 10th largest privately held insurance brokerage in America. IOA has a proprietary program called RiskScore® which has identified several key areas that risk is derived from. RiskScore® focuses on employers’ strengths and weaknesses to help improve their risk potential. A critical component of risk mitigation is safety training. The BERT training program can enhance an employer’s safety preparation to avoid costly mistakes when an emergency occurs.
Survival and Recovery
From the American Red Cross Preparedness Survey, 2006, “Only 2 in 10 Americans feel prepared for a catastrophic event.”
Integration of an emergency plan into the culture does not require a full-court-press. As a matter of fact, an effective plan will have positive managerial ramifications. Emergency training, by definition cannot be specifically planned. If something went wrong and a plan was implemented and successful, it would not be an emergency, it would be an incident. Emergencies are sudden incidents with unanticipated dangers thrown at people. Specific emergency training teaches how to quickly evaluate, make decisions, delegate, and shift plans using a plan-b, c, and d thought process. Is that not a strong skill-set for any employee at any level?
The BERT-EOM course of study and practice includes a much abbreviated FEMA curriculum as the seed-basis of study. The FAL Accredited course greatly expands upon CERT to include site-specific considerations from each participant that they continually rely upon as he or she is formulating their business’s EOP (Emergency Operations Plan). Through continual tabletop and outdoor simulations and testing, each participant is placed in the role of EM (Emergency Manager) leading other participants through the exercise. Using injected variables, the student EM is continually tasked with evolving his or her plan. The intent is to convey that fluidity in an emergency is a paramount consideration. “One Plan is No Plan; Two Plans is One Plan; Three Plans is A Plan and a Backup.” In reality, no plan will work. From the class curriculum.
The EM and his or her team creates a mindset for being able to respond to whatever the situation presents to those involved. “We’ve got this.”
From the American Red Cross Preparedness Survey, 2006. “Only 1 in 10 (10%) American households have taken the appropriate preparedness steps: a family emergency plan, an emergency supply kit and training in First Aid and CPR/AED.”
What would expect the mental state of key people in the event of the need to have them leading your organization through an emergency? In considering this point, clearly more people have recollected a personal challenge. Would that not be, by default, the same number for businesses? And, if a key-person was personally involved in a situation at home, does this not affect his or her performance?
From the American Red Cross/Harris Poll Survey, 2009, “51% of Americans have experienced at least one emergency situation where they lost utilities for at least three days, had to evacuate and could not return home, could not communicate with family members or had to provide first aid to others.”
A family’s preparedness ties directly to the performance level of a staff member. If communications are interrupted, knowing that one’s family has a plan and a thought-process to evolve it as necessary is critical to the success of any business emergency plan.
Any emergency will have several broad yet specific facets. Those facets, however, will be managed differently based upon the scope of the Emergency and its aftermath. Each of the EOM courses describes the chaos inside an Emergency and how to manage it using the NIMS-ICS system. Despite the inevitable chaos, specific phases will need to be worked through:
In Phase I, during and immediately after the cause of the emergency (fire, earthquake, civil unrest, etc.), a command post, gathering and counting of people and specific plan for the location of unaccounted for individuals is required; simultaneously the larger issue of when to expect assistance from First Responders must be planned for and anticipated.
Phase II includes a search plan for the missing and simultaneous triage of the facility or site to identify all of the facets that may need attention for proper evaluation is.
Phase III is the medical triage into designated safe areas of those mortally wounded and separated by level of injury.
Phase IV is to begin dealing with the psychological effects of the emergency.
Phase V is the realization of the timeline, ability, and potential actual evacuation of individuals. This phase begins to account for a potential shelter-in-place scenario with Workers’ Compensation safety considerations.
Phase VI is the implementation of the recovery plan outlined in the EOP.
Phase VII is financial: Any emergency will have financial losses that may be reimbursable by insurance or FEMA. Both require appropriate documentation.
All EOM courses emphasize the critical importance of contemporaneous notes from the very beginning of an emergency to justify proper claims for losses.
Phase VIII is Recovery: Like any business plan, a specific plan for recovery is required before the plan needs to be implemented. Planning in the middle of any business situation is not effective. Plan to recover.
The purpose of the BERT-EOM Program is to offer a “next generation” system of emergency preparedness training which provides for survival and recovery until first responders arrive. Participants of this program are never intended to replace first responders or even to work alongside first responders during a disaster. The nature of this course gives participants knowledge and skills to be self-sufficient, particularly as part of a recovery plan after first responders have left the site.
In the wake of the Great Recession cities and communities have had to face the challenges brought by the reduction in the number of first responders due to budget cuts.
The EOM program and its course curriculum is not a re-packaging of courses already established by other agencies and organizations. This program offers a curriculum which builds on what has already proven to work, but adds elements which recognize the “new reality of our times”.
While other programs are designed to help families and residents in local neighborhoods survive and become self-sufficient after a natural or man-made disaster, the primary clientele or target users of the BERT-EOM program include manufacturing, warehousing, office, hotel, entertainment, restaurant and retail businesses. Corporate graduates include Waste Management, Farmer and Merchants Bank, and Deloitte.
Other groups which benefit include large, non-profit organizations and houses of worship. Specific examples include Good Will Industries and Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana, California.
The development of the BERT-EOM course content came out of “on the ground” experiences of veteran first responders, including police officers and fire fighters. It also evolved out of the hard lessons learned by local and international business leaders who found that other programs did not address the impact disasters have on business operations.
BERT’s real world application and success story can be demonstrated by the experience of one of our BERT Directors, Mr. D. Scott Walker, Sr. Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety Specialist, for Abbott Medical Optics’ (AMO) Santa Ana, CA facility.
When the 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami hit Japan in March, 2011, Mr. Walker utilized his EOM training in coordinating operations between his local, Orange County facility and Abbott’s operations in Japan. Through the training he received, Mr. Walker learned to manage multi-level emergency planning strategies which helped mitigate the impact on his company. Mr. Walker effectively took worldwide critical actions to safeguard AMO’s employees and the general public from exposure to nuclear contamination. According to estimates from the World Bank, this catastrophe in Japan was the costliest in world history, estimated at $235 billion. Because of his Advanced BERT-EOM training, Mr. Walker was better prepared to avoid more dire impacts on his company’s survival and recovery operations.
Today, American citizens and business leaders face natural disasters on an unprecedented scale. Whether one attributes the cause to a global warming or bad luck, both the human and economic toll is indisputable. Moreover, the new BERT-EOM program addresses other realities of our times, such as pandemics, local and world terrorism and the tragedies of active shooter incidents. New times require new and advanced training from what has been before.
Goodwill of Orange County …The BERT training has become a lighthouse for our organization. The program has not only provided us with a road map for further development of our disaster program but also provided us lifelong partnerships to facilitate continued growth as we move into the future. We look forward to a continuing effort to work with current and future BERT members in the years to come.
Pioneer Circuits… The BERT training program provided key information that I can utilize in both my personal and professional life. The segments of the training that I particularly like are Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Medical Operations and Disaster Psychology. I strongly believe that this training will help me in assessing not only my needs but also the needs of co-workers or even my family in an emergency situation.
I would without a doubt recommend the BERT Training program to any business representative in the Santa Ana area. You’ll get an impressive, professional hands-on training. Taught by qualified emergency personnel.
Fabcon’s participation in the B.E.R.T. program has given us valuable insight as we move forward with preparing our in-house “Emergency Response Plan”. We now have a better understanding as to what to expect from our city’s first responders, how to properly prepare our facility and staff for emergency situations as well as the opportunity to network with our neighbors so that we might share assets and support in times of crisis.
Royale Health Care… It seemed that every class held a wealth of information, not only for our businesses but also for our families. Many hands make light labor and the teamwork spirit of Santa Ana proves this to be true.
This was a very productive time! Through hands-on activities, I learned how to save lives and property; the importance of communication and advance planning; the real value of our resources that we take for granted every day; the significant role and needs of our city first emergency responders; and much more. I am eager to put together a bilingual training and transfer all my learnings to our employees, who mainly are Santa Ana residents. This valuable information not only helps at work but also at home. Thank you to the foundation, the fire and police departments, and all the people involved in this important endeavor. We are now BERT certified people and ready to help others.
Jones LaSalle/Deutsche… The … BERT program was a fantastic event, which I found to be informative and inspiring. The program instructors and the organizer (Bill Cunningham) were insightful teachers who gave us hands on performance that enlightened all of us of our critical responsibilities as emergency responders. In the class, I actually felt as though I were in a real crisis situation, and psyched myself on the methods I would need to know and use to respond adequately with forethought and calmness should a real disaster ever strike. I soon began to recognize weaknesses in our business preparation methodology, and immediately received guidance on how to recognize and correct these deficiencies.
I found myself excited to attend each class every week and immensely enjoyed the comradeship of many of my business neighbors of whom I would have never met had it not been for this assimilation. Bill has done a great job with this endeavor, and the support he receives from the Police and Fire Departments is a testament of the validity and vital need for this program. I would highly recommend it to all persons who wish to learn and mature in the ways of helping others, as well as ourselves when a disaster occurs. We owe it to our friends, family, and coworkers to become leaders instead of followers when a disaster strikes.
Glenn Gelman & Associates… Initially I was “volunteered” for this class and really didn’t really expect much. I have gone through CPR and First Aid training in the past and figured it would be very similar. Much to my surprise it was much more comprehensive (although they don’t provide CPR training). It was an enlightening experience to say the least. We had a verbal enactment at the beginning to show us our knowledge.
I have learned everything from psychology to sign language and all the various ways to deal with various crisis situations. After the 6 weeks of training we did a hands on application, I enjoyed this part!! This was a real eye opener into how much we learned. I would even recommend doing maybe two at the end instead of just one, so future students could really get the “hang of it”. I feel I’d be at least helpful in a crisis situation now. It’s nice to know I’d be a part of the solution not part of the problem.
Misc. Comments from recent participants:
I had a great experience with the BERT class VI in meeting terrific people within many different companies within our city.
A lot of diversity that brings a community together in a way that will be priceless in the event of the next disaster, incident or major event within our community. As I just said the “next” not “if” because we all need to know there is not an “if” it is a “when” will it happen and nobody knows. However all we can do is educate ourselves and be prepared for when it does.
I think this class is a must for any business small or large. I think it should be one representative for every 10-15(max) employees. It should be a management roll as the priority and expanded down the chain to your most reliable employees. As these will be the ones at the facility when it happens. I personally found myself talking a lot and relating/reiterating things I learned to my family, friends and coworkers. It’s scary how real all that is discussed seemed to occur in the process. A mall shooting happened during the course of the class.
After our class had just concluded, the next day the second most deadly school shooting in history, involving the most innocent civilians, our children and our future, happened. In having two young girls of my own this really hit home for me, but had I been involved in either of these incidents I would have had training to react appropriate in the situation.I encourage you to take the class and get educated to help yourself and others in times of emergencies, you will walk away with a sense of pride and personal commitment to help when help will really be needed.
Bill Cunningham, CEO
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