Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Perception of a Page or Website: How do You See Us?

The other day, Michael H Ballard, a person I like to believe is a good friend even though we've only met in person once but many times by phone and Facebook, posted this comment:
"Attention Attention Facebook Business Pager Owners: Does what you post build and attract business? What attitude does it project? Why have you chosen the theme your post?"

What a comment/question! It really got me thinking! So, I posted back: "Good question! I wonder if mine is what it should be. Think I need to review it again."The answer I got back, I'm not sure if it was related to my page or pages in general, but in essence said "too many negative, too many confusing posting, would I want to friend that page/business/person?

My first urge was to take it personally, and respond in a knee-jerk manner, and ask Michael what I had done to tick him off. Good thing I didn't, because now I don't believe it was directed directly at me. But still, I went back to may business page, TEN33 Disaster Preparedness Consulting, and give it a good review. While I don't think I have much content that might be confusing, I can see how some of the content might be construed as negative and perhaps depressing. So I thought,"What can I do about this? IS there a way to make the content more positive, and still call people to action and get public understanding on how important Emergency/Disaster Preparedness really is?"

So far, the answer is "Nope".

The problem lies primarily, in the nature of this business. Emergency and Disaster Preparedness is a topic/subject people just don't wish to think about! And I don't blame them one bit! Embassy bombings, riots, terrorism on the human face, and hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and more on the natural earth side. It makes it appear that human kind is stuck between a rock and a hard place, and little to no hope in site. Remember though, appearances can be deceiving!

Yes, it is a dark portal I look out of. I see it every day in news reports that pass by my computer screen, and news feeds on my iPad. But I don't dwell upon the negativity there before me. If I did, I would truly go buggy. I've chosen instead, to let these images and stories let me see how positive, good and full of growth can be if we all accepted that those "nasties" are out there and did one thing... PREPARE!

Preparedness planning doesn't take much work. It takes some though, some attention to details, and some good foresight. A home Emergency Plan covers a multitude of scenarios, and provides a family the best possible chances for that happy ending once the storm clouds part. (figuratively and literally). Good business emergency plans ensure Continuity of Operations, rapid Return Time Operations numbers that keep businesses going through and after a crisis. (and, I have to note, great ROI or Return on Investment the first time they are called upon). And Community Emergency Planning, usually done by your Municipality/Town Government, assures critical services are up and running promptly, and the infrastructure is back in place to keep our communities health and prosperous.

I know not one single person (aside from those of us working in the industry) wants to think about the disasters and emergencies that would devastate our lives. That is human nature, and part of the reason we are such a resilient species on this planet. But I would like everyone who reads this to see one thing: Visit the "Dark Side" for a bit, see what you have and might loose, and then understand that planning can and does minimize or even prevent those loses. Planning certainly gets you back to a more "normal state" than not planning. It saves money, time, lives, marriages, businesses and far far more.

So, I will apologize now to those who find thinking about Emergency Planning a dark spot they just can't visit; but understand I only have your best interests in mind. I care deeply for Community, and this is what I was called to do as a result.I'll also ask this of you, Good Followers: Share with me those things that reflect the positive aspect from disaster as a direct impact from planning. Share with me and others here what information YOU would like and need. Ask questions, look for answers and ask for help and guidance. I have found a cornucopia of businesses and people within Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more, who are more than happy to help you and others cope, recover, and prepare for life and Mother Nature.Keep strong: Resilience can be yours. You just have to accept the fact that bad things happen, and know that you will survive them just by planning for them. And I'd like to help you!

Greg Long

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Elliott Lake: When Search and Rescue Doesn't Meet Our Expectations

The situation is the least desirable situation one can imagine. There are approximately 30 people unaccounted for within the collapsed shopping mall, and Search and rescue people are walking away. The crowd and population are livid; how can they leave a survivor (for there have been indications there is at least one individual still alive within this unintentional tomb) and tell the world they are quitting? Protests start, politicians go on the verbal offensive, while ministry directors make decisions about what should and should not be. Everyone has a voice, and everyone demands their voice be the one heeded. The worst of situations.

Sunday saw a tragedy unfold right in our own back yard. Normally, Ontarians think of collapses such as this occurring during severe winter weather and severe storm (read tornado) events, or in second and third world nations where building code isn't strong enough or not enforced. Yet, it happened in Ontario. In a community known as a retirement haven not long ago. And to add insult to the situation, rescuers wont rescue.

So far, it may seem like the blog here is going to bash the search and rescue community, for not having the courage to do what is necessary to save a life, or potentially, lives. If that is your assumption Dear Reader, you assume wrong.

The very last thing ANY responder wants to do is leave a victim and or survivor behind. These brave souls are good at what they do... no, great at what they do because their first instinct is to save a life; to rescue those in need of rescuing come hell or high water. They are sworn to do what they can to save save lives. And on a daily basis, that is what our EMTs, Fire Services, Police Services and Special Teams such as Search and Rescue (SAR) and Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) personnel do. It isn't just a job, it is their calling and passion. So imagine how they must feel stepping back.

How can they step back? Sometimes its the only call that can be made. Is it responsible to place 2, 3, 5 or 10 rescuers lives in jeopardy in order to pull someone from the wreckage who may not live? If the person in that same wreckage is a loved one, just about every Canadian would say yes. And that is their emotion, connection, love and need for that loved one speaking. And its not wrong. But its also not right.

A very wise EMT/Paramedic I know, who trained me in Standard First Aid/HeartSaver CPR said something to us during training that needs repeating now: "At the end of the day, the rescuer goes home". Sounds a bit selfish doesn't it? But it is the furthest thing from selfish. Because at the end of the day, there is going be someone else, somewhere and sometime who is going to need that rescuer to help them. If a rescuer is lost, that soul can't help anyone. When a rescuer is lost, immediately his or her comrades feel the need to find him/her, and pull them to safety, jeopardizing more of the team (if left to their instincts). It spirals from there. So stepping away is, without doubt in my mind, the hardest action these brave souls must take. I imagine it kills a piece of them each time they have to make it.

Consider, if you will Dear Reader, the loss of a rescuer or rescuers for one potential survivor, only to have all lost permanently. Do we then attack citing faulty training? Faulty reasoning? What do we say to THEIR families? Do we shrug it off and say, "Well, that's their job! And they screwed it up because our loved one is still in there too!" DAMN RIGHT WE DON'T!

We are not there. And most of you good Readers are not versed in their trade and skill. You haven't the years of training and experience they do. I understand more than many of you due to my training, education and experience in Emergency Management, but even I am not qualified to criticize their judgement. And at the risk of sounding judgemental/critical/confrontational to the politicians and Ministry Officials, neither do they. The only people truly fit to make the call are those with the training and experience. In the case of the Elliott Lake shopping mall, that means HUSAR personnel. And we need to leave them to their task as they deem fit.

Its hard for us to understand, but sometimes the fastest and safest way for HUSAR/SAR to do their job is to stop, pull back even walk away and rethink the task out. They need to re-evaluate, revise plans, regroup then and only then resume operations. And sometimes, that means walking away for good.

My heart goes out to all those trapped in the wreckage of the mall. It goes out to their families, to their friends, their coworkers. And it goes out to the reponders; EMTs, firefighters, police the SAR and HUSAR teams especially. They have the hardest decisions to make; life and death decisions, and very often they are the most unpopular and undesirable decisions. Decisions they absolutely find repulsive to make. And even if only necessary to make once throughout an entire career, too often necessary.

Share this Blog if you will Dear Reader, in support of the responders in our communities. Theirs is the hardest job of any to do, and the most necessary.

To all our EMTs, Fire Fighters, Police, SAR and HUSAR Teams and all other Emergency Responders;
Thank you in the most heart felt ways, for the sacrifices you make each and every day! We owe you a debt that can never be repaid!

Greg Long, President
TEN33 Inc. Disaster Preparedness Consulting

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Awakening; it Can Happen to Me!

Not in our corner of the world!

Things like that happen on other countries, we're too nice!

What are the chances? So small they really don't exist!

This are typical responses one would get if we we're to discuss the potential of a "shooter" running rampant inside a major shopping venue in Toronto. Oh, perhaps we could have a mugging, or more likely just a "fisticuffs" going on, even a purse or purchase snatching. But never a shooting. C'mon, this is "Toronto the Good"! We don't do crap like that!

Apparently, some of us do.

There are three things I won't do following this dastardly attack. One, I won't blatantly use it to sell myself, my services or my programs. That would be, and is cheap and taudry. Secondly, I won't use it to stir fervor and frighten people to action in the cause of Emergency and Disaster Planning and Preparedness. I think that doing so would only stir up anxieties unnecessarily, and that would not be a positive to peoples responses should another like event occur. And lastly, I will not attempt to soothe you collective brows, and coo such sweet affections inferring the bad man is gone, never to return, and this is a once in a lifetime thing, never to return to us again. Because this is the second time such events have unfolded inside of 7 years.

In December of 2005, a vivacious 15 year old Jane Creba was shot dead by an errant bullet from the gun of another drug/gang-banger while she shopped a busy Yonge Street, only meters away from Saturdays sad events. We were all amazed and shocked such a thing could happen in our fair city then, but I think many believed (perhaps even me to a degree) that this would likely never happen again. We've just been reminded that events, like history, have a tendency to repeat themselves, and as Churchill said, we are damned to repeat them if we do not learn from them.

I know we learned from Jane Creba's death. Perhaps we forgot some of what we learned though, and this is our lesson on remembering.

From all accounts I have seen, the security team at the Eaton's Centre performed admirably and quickly. I can't say I've seen anything to find fault with in their response by any media account of events. The same can be said for Toronto's men and women of Toronto Police Services. They too were on the scene rapidly, and took charge as they needed to in order to protect. I can't say that there was any miscue at all from any responder. That's great news!

In saying all that though, it brings to the front of my mind anyway, the need for more preparedness training in the private sector. A heads up as it were for the average man and woman and child on the street. And, more importantly, practice in the business world in responding to these rare yet potentially deadly occurrences ahead of time.

I don't know if the Cadillac Fairview Security staff had ever conducted an exercise related shooters inside the Eaton's Center before, but it seems obvious there may have been some discussion and possibly training conducted reflecting that. It would make sense with the Centre's tourist designation. The result either way is, this might have been a far more tragic day for many more families had the response gone any other way. I strongly commend the actions of those immediately on scene in response.

I can't help but wonder though, how things would have gone if this event occurred in a private business instead of a public place. How many would be injured, how many would be dead. I wonder this because the majority of businesses don't have a security team on hand trained or at least schooled on responses to such hostile attacks. I wonder how our organizations events(Scouting events, Optimist Club meetings, Lion's Club charity events and Charity gals and balls and more) would fair if something similar to Saturday's food court attack occurred during the event. I cant recall seeing any security personnel around when I spoke before a Rotarian Sunrise group breakfast a year or so ago in downtown Toronto. And I know we didn't have any onside security in the warehouse of a former employer of mine when an escapee of the Metro East Detention Center tried to hide in one of the dumpsters inside our loading dock one year.

Security teams at every event we hold as NPOs isn't feasible. Nor is having, in most cases, a full time security team in our businesses and meeting halls. The cost benefit ratio is way out of whack, especially for our service clubs who all too often work on shoe-string budgets. But (you knew there had to be a "but"), there is a liability we have as business owners, service club members and organizers of other events (those aforementioned galas and balls) to those who attend the meetings, events, galas and balls. It's called "Due Diligence", it's called "Duty of Care" and it all hangs on doing "all things reasonable" to protect employees, guests, friends, and families from harm. While a security team might be above the "all things reasonable" category, having Emergency/Disaster Plans that deal with theses potentially deadly occurrences isn't.

Emergency/Disaster Plans for events, balls, galas, service club meetings and in general for businesses really aren't expensive, especially compared to the value of the lives that would be saved by having a plan in place, not to mention the potential cost from litigation should a court decide you didn't do everything reasonable to protect those "in your charge". For most charitable events, Emergency Plannners would offer discounts based on the nature of your organization. Savings would be seen too, where an event was returning to a previously utilized venue, as the bulk of the plan would already be written and require minor revision to accommodate the new event. I think it would be fair to say, based on inside knowledge, most of these plans could be generated for less than $1000.00 Cdn for very large events, and probably less than a few hundred dollars for the average sized event. Perhaps less for charitable.

Regardless, the benefits of putting into place an Emergency/Disaster Plan in the workplace, or for any type of gathering or event far exceeds ANY of the costs. There are any number of people and businesses that can help you prepare, or prepare for you, a solid Emergency Plan. I strongly recommend you consider using their services. It's not just for you protection, but also for your guests, employees and their families protection.

Greg Long, President;
TEN33 Inc.