I recently heard the term "plandemic" in reference to the many new plans being developed for the potential of a pandemic.
My first thought was, "how clever."
However, some in the disaster recovery/business continuity industry may think that is an inappropriate analogy. After all, one job of a continuity planner is to plan for the small incidents, the worst-case scenario, and everything else in between.
A common phrase used in our profession is, "It’s not a matter of if, but when."
Of course it’s not a matter of if, because it is a fact that disasters, both natural and man-made, will happen.
We know that every year hurricanes are going to hit the Gulf Coast and Atlantic regions, California perpetually has the potential of a major earthquake, the Plains are going to experience severe storms and tornadoes, power outages will occur, rolling blackouts will be necessary, the threat of terrorist bombings persist, the latest cyber-virus will strike, and on and on.
Do we really need to have an individual plan for each scenario? Are we suffering from "plandemic" and not keeping sight of the basics?
A major lesson from Hurricane Katrina is the need for personal preparedness. No matter how much planning a company does, the company is going to be faced with problems if employees do not plan on their own. These problems could include a shortage of employees capable of working and the company scrambling to provide for those employees who have been directly affected by the disaster itself. There were many corporations who set great examples that could be considered best practice for responding to those needs. However, I believe our plans should start on the level of personal preparedness.
Recently I was speaking to a large audience of business continuity professionals about my experience responding to Hurricane Katrina. I took a moment to ask how many had a personal preparedness plan and sufficient supplies for their home. I was a bit surprised when only a quarter of the audience raised their hand.
As continuity professionals, we must practice what we preach and lead by example.
The development of a home continuity plan really is not all that difficult. It simply takes a willingness to initiate. If you have not begun your own plan, pick up a gallon of water and an extra can of soup at your next trip to the grocery story. Before you know it, you will have the basic emergency necessities of food and water. Here is an example of some of the basics as recommended by the American Red Cross:
There are six basics you should stock for your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. Keep the items you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container – suggested items are marked with an asterisk(*) on the accompanying list. Possible containers include a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack, or a duffle bag.
After you are prepared, what about your neighbors? Many communities have excellent programs such as the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). Reach out to your local emergency planners and develop a CERT team in your neighborhood. Once we have ourselves and our neighborhoods taken care of, we can turn our attention back to our corporate plans.
As a first priority of any business continuity plan we should focus on the preparedness of our employees. Without the employee, it does not matter how fast the systems are recovered because there will be no one to operate them. Naturally the next step is to champion an employee preparedness campaign, just like you strive to educate employees of what to do during an emergency at work. Ensure they are prepared at home. If every company large and small took these efforts, the ability to recover from any disaster would be greatly enhanced across the United States.
As the nation prepares for a potential pandemic, the need for personal preparedness has never been more self-evident. Considering the depth and magnitude of a scenario that could potentially call for extended quarantines, with contingencies for work-from-home plans, the time for preparedness is now. While H5N1 may not be the next event, it is inevitable there will be other disasters. As always, the planning and preparedness that we do now will only go to help us be better prepared for whatever we may face in the future.
Now we are better prepared as individuals, as communities and as corporations. Ultimately this will lead to being better prepared as a nation.
Brandon Bond, CBCP, disaster preparedness manager for Kaiser Permanente’s National Security Services, is a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Bay Area Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT CA-6).
"Appeared in DRJ's Winter 2007 Issue"