Emergency checklistAlong with many Calgarians, I got a first-hand experience on how a major disaster can so quickly shift the foundations of a community, a business, a family and an individual simultaneously. One day you’re hurrying to meet a deadline, the next you’re taking in refugee relatives and watching river torrent rising toward your house. The backbreaking cleanup work and emotion of the days following take you far away from business as usual. Now, after all this, you need to get back to work.

A few years ago, during the pandemic scare, I provided business continuity planning for some clients, and now I have a chance to test those ideas. As a business or government, can you really prepare for all this? Does all this planning help in the face of real-life chaos? I say yes, as long as you focus on the basics:

Emergency services cover the basics – the rest is up to you

All levels of emergency and civic services were outstanding containing floodwaters, keeping people safe, working to restore power, keeping us informed, and providing emergency recovery funding. But getting your business back up and running is up to you, so you need your own emergency response/recovery plan.

In a crisis, personal and business lives come together, for better or worse.

Business leaders soon realize that the personal lives of their employees and how they were impacted by the disaster is going to hold precedence for a time over efforts to get the business up and running again.

In a community—you can’t operate at the expense of others

In flooded neighbourhoods and among business colleagues there was an evident, instinctive and totally appropriate desire to put one’s own interests aside to help others in greater need. Your business response planning has to account for this as well.

Your functional needs can be preplanned

Mapping out your business’s core functions and how they interrelate is a key foundation for making decisions and establishing priorities among your business partners, employees, and clients. It’s the common, agreed upon language and parameters for ensuring that you are not running amok.

IT has it covered

With the power off and servers and networks isolated, many of us discovered how fragile our information resources are. We need to test our assumptions about how IT will work prior to a crisis.