Disaster Planning or Planning A Disaster?
Disaster planning can only become effective if there is unity in an organization’s disaster management team. It is said to be the core of the company’s survival in case of crisis, a school’s first aid during an emergency or the only lifeline for your family during a disaster. Although the risks involved are vast and the cost of planning is enormous, your team can actually make the most out of your disaster planning by identifying common problems and challenges. If the organization fails to identify and deal with these problems accordingly, the disaster plan itself can even become a risk.
So in order to prevent disaster planning from becoming a timed-bomb counting down to explosion, here is a list of what to avoid and what to watch out. First is to watch out for the inter-agency emergency and disaster coordination. A very good example is to know when or why you should be coordinating with the Red Cross. Schools and hospitals should have a firm relationship with these agencies. Even if your disaster management team is well knowledgeable and skilled, collaboration with outside emergency units is still very important.
Second is communication. In disaster planning, avoid likelihood of communication failure. Cellular phones and landlines can provide the benefits of convenience but they might not always give the benefit of reliability. In times of weather-related disaster, telephone lines could be disrupted. So invest in long range two way radio units.
Another important thing to watch out for is the management of resource. There must be a centralized system of distributing emergency supplies and survival kits to avoid confusion, supply shortage and adverse damages. Resources however are not only limited to survival materials, goods and emergency kits. It also includes emergency volunteers and equipment. Again, to avoid confusion, orientation and even last minute briefings must take place before volunteers and agencies take on a disaster situation.
Disaster planning should also cover credible dissemination of information. Skepticism, doubt and even downplays are unavoidable when public warnings are issued. So avoid providing half truths. Your public warning should not be ambiguous. It must be lifted from a reliable source and should provide identification of individual risk and guidelines on what actions to take. For example, when issuing a hurricane warning, do not just report of its coming. Provide information about the scale of its possible damages and suggest action such as evacuation or staying indoors.
Collaboration, communication, resource coordination and warnings are keywords to remember in dealing with the common challenges of disaster planning. Check if you’re doing disaster planning, not planning for disaster.