Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Preparedness In The Home.

This past weekend I helped introduce 200 youth to Emergency and Disaster Preparedness through my volunteer work with Scouts Canada, and Whitby Area Scouts. It was an eye opening experience for most of them, if not a bit on the heady side. But, they all left the weekend camp with a good idea of what they needed to do and what they needed to have when disaster strikes. And, they all came away with their own Home Emergency Plan.

Home Emergency Planning is the direction we need to head in the world today. If you want your family to survive a disaster without injury and only minor inconvenience, then you need to plan. They aren't very expensive, they are easy to do and are easy to follow, test and adjust where needed. They can come as templates for the family to complete, or they are available customized in advance to your address and community. Either way, they have good time investment value, and there may be an argument that they can save on insurance premiums. (the latter I will not guarantee at this time, but I have seen some indicators that this may be so)

My fellow Whitby Cub Scouters and I could not have done this introduction to Emergency Management in the home alone, and we had some fantastic people come and help us from organizations in the Durham Region.

Kathleen Smyth from the Durham Emergency Management Office (DEMO) introduced the youth to putting together a 72 hour preparedness kit. Kathleen dealt with an average of 50 youth in each of 4 sessions, and managed to engage them in a topic often lost on adults.

Shawna Coulter from Whitby Fire services brought us her team to teach the youth fire safety, and had some incredible display teaching props and games.

OVERT, the Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team joined us and taught the youth how to keep themselves safe in field and community, and how to be found if they became lost due to disaster, and introduced the youth to Backus the search and rescue dog. Glenn Turpin, Alex Gun and the team taught the Hug a Tree program as well, and ran one of our challenges on the Sunday session.

Others of note who helped us bring the material to the youth, Brian Wick of Custom Printing/Brooklin Bulletin Signs, Pressprint.com, and Nelson Education.

Whitby Scouting, Pack Section wishes to thank each and every person who helped make this camp weekend so special for the youth. They met the challenges of 200 excited youth, and a service team of new members who may not have been the most organized bunch running their first camp experience as a team. These program sponsors had their hands full, came through like champions and we owe them a large debt of gratitude.

I hope the families of the youth in attendance will complete the plans they now have, and test them and review them and make the necessary changes to their plans to make them work and continue to work for their families. They are now ahead of the majority of Canadian families, and I for one would like to see them stay that way.

For everyone else out there: get going on your plans! I'll be happy to help.

Greg Long, TEN33

Monday, August 16, 2010

Returns Vs Costs: Argument FOR Emergency Planning

Keeping operational costs at as low a figure as possible is crucial in today's world market. Banks and financial institutions have failed, ad its put a tremendous strain on business's. It's really a disaster unto its own. And that is why it is so important to seek out and retain the services of an Emergency Management professional. But the cost is the concern, right?

The cost of NOT planning should be your focus. Lets look at some figures for a bit.

You hire an EM consultant to help make your plans. Consulting rates for any thing these days is high; a little over $81.00 per hour on the low side, and reaching to over $200.00 on the high side. For this exercise, lets say the rate is $115.00 per hour. In order to create a comprehensive plan to protect a medium large to large business, its going to take approximately 16 weeks (probably more, depending on what planning exists). It would also be fair to assume there would be 35.5 billable hours per week during the process. So, the simple math tells us the cost of creating the plan is around $59,800.00.

That isn't the end of the costs, because there is annual (preferably twice annually) testing of the plan, review, revision etc., which would add about another 25 to 30 hours annually. That is really small change though in the grand scheme, coming in at $3450.00 on the high side, using the same hourly rate.

Now, lets look at the other side of the equation, the potential losses.

The goal of Emergency Planning is to get critical business functions back up and running within 72 hours. If your business is the average medium large to large company, daily revenues would be somewhere about $25,000.00 per day. Assume then that you will certainly loose profits for at lest one day before critical functions are up, and then another day at half function, the existing loss would then be $37,500.00. This of course assumes you've planned. For those who haven't planned, there will be at least 3 days (72 hrs) down. Already that's $75,000.00, plus facility losses, plus lost documentation, worker downtime, production downtime; well, you get the picture. Most companies without plans find they need 5 to 7 business days for resumption of critical business functions to occur. That means a loss of $175,000.00 on the long side, $125,000.00 on the short.

Lets go to the low side, and say 5 days lost, for $125,000.00. Now if you had planned, and we use the one and a half days to resume critical functions, a loss of only $37,500 there is a saving of $87,500.00. THE PLAN HAS MORE THAN PAID FOR ITS SELF!

Take this into account too: 80% of businesses that suffer some disaster that do not get there critical functions up and running within 72 hours fail within the following year. Of the remainder, 20% will fail within two years. Not encouraging numbers.

So, in the grand scheme of things, some money spent now will have a significant ROI the first time the plan needs to be enacted, and we haven't talked about litigation from failure to deliver on terms of contract (meting purchasing requirements from suppliers, failure to deliver to customers etc.) and employee litigation's for negligence and more. Now the loss figures could be into the millions.

So, my advice; do some planning. With a consultant on board, the process is largely in the background. There is minimal disruption, and the benefits sure outweigh the inconveniences.

Till next time, remember: Knowledge is Resilience
Keep Safe
Greg Long, President; TEN33 Disaster Preparedness Consulting

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beginning The Journey

Many executives are reluctant to begin the Emergency Planning game. Many more of those who are reluctant are small to medium size business owners. They see more money being spent than can be justified by the perceived Return on Investment. They see hours upon hours of time being spent on a plan that could be spent generating more business, and growing their client base. So really again, they see dollars, but this time dollars not being generated.

I see their point of view, to a degree.

Capital is the life blood of business. It is why business begis, what keeps it going, pays salaries, bills and helps business expand. So, spending money on an Emergency Plan is a low priority. The arguemet is that, in all likelyhood, they will never need to call upon that plan. Depending on location, many of the "disasters" plans cover are unlikely. These men and women would argue that they watch whats going on, and take steps as they need too, so a plan is just tied up capital. Why bother to make a plan for what is a statisical annomaly? The answer is in remembering the events of September 11th, 2001.

Who would have dreamed that men would fly 2 loaded airliners into those buildings? Who would have dreamed that those buildings would have collapsed from fires? If smeone had suggested even a remote possibility of it happening, people would have said they were just making stuff up to justify their jobs or the expenditure.

It did happen. And one would think that message would still ring loud and clear; that "stuff" happens. Those that had plans for other reasons came through those dark days ruffled, but strong. Many of those without plans arent around to do business any longer. and that is the point. The first time (or only time if you wish) a plan needs to be activated, its paid for itself a hundred times over.

And that will be the topic of the next message; The Returns VS The Costs

Monday, July 19, 2010

So, This is Blogging

A new blog? Yes, I guess it is.

I'm not sure about blogging; I'm new to it. Frankly, this intimidates me a little. Ask me to present a training session on WHMIS, not a problem. Extoll in person the benefits of creating, testing and maintaining Emergency Management Plans, equally as simple. You can even ask me to participate and run a Cub Scout Camp, and I'l barely bat an eye. But, blogging is new to me. So kind blog reader, be kind and be gentle.

Over the next several messages, I will attempt to present to you kind reader, a logical explanation of Emergency Planning, Management and Response & Recovery. I will attempt to demonstrate how the expenditure of financial resources in the here an now will save potential millions for business in the future. I will hopefully bring away from the "darkside" of having no Emergency Plan, to the "lightside" and doing that which I firmly believe is the right thing...planning.

Before I get right into the thick of it, (which I will leave until my next blog) I want you my good reader to begin to think of Emergency Preparedness/Management/Planning as a living being. It grows, it learns, and it adapts. And, when proper attention is paid, it flourishes. That is when it really begins to pay off. The money spent initially shows its full value, and the additional costs diminish. And the best part is, you business becomes truely resillient.

There is, of course, planning for the home too. Think on it as well. Would it not be worth it to know your loved ones are as wel prepared to survive calamity as your business. (In my thoughts, it's far more important that family survives)

That's all for tonight. Start thinking about your plan, or the lack thereof, and what the cost might be to your business if some form of disaster struck tonight while you were sleeping. Try and imagine how long it would take for you to restore your Critical Business Functions (and that is way more than ust your IT/MIS group). Could you do it in say...72 hours?

Read me later, and we will begin this journey to resilliency.


Greg Long, President;

TEN33 Disaster Preparedness Consulting