Disaster Response Begins Here

By Edward Sullivan, Editor  

As hurricane season begins, facility executives in hurricane-prone regions can be forgiven for wondering whether FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Administration — will be ready this time if a major storm hits. But a better question might be, is your local community ready?

That question adds an important dimension to the challenge of preparing for disaster. Facility executives have understandably focused their efforts within the organization. Indeed, one lesson of Katrina is that facilities may need to operate without basic civic services for a while.

But a resilient local response can be an immense asset to facility executives. So whose job is it to make sure a community is ready? Clearly, local government has the key role in the effort. But the business community is important as well. As the lead person in the internal emergency-response effort, the facility executive may also be the logical one to push for business involvement in the community disaster-response effort.

Ideally, local government bodies will reach out to corporations in the area. But if that isn’t happening, it is worthwhile for the facility executive to take the initiative. Doing that may mean working with the company’s top executives to reach local government officials directly. Or the best route may be to coordinate efforts of several corporations through an area business group.

None of this is to downplay the role of government — local and national — in responding when a disaster hits. But, by taking an active role in community planning, facility executives can help improve the first line of defense for the entire area.

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  posted on 7/1/2007   Article Use Policy

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