An Emergency Preparedness program on Oct. 8 will help business owners and their employees cope better in an emergency.
The one hour program is being held as part of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce’s Spark Session at the chamber office. It is free for all chamber members.
Karen Lindsay, Emergency Program Manager for the City of Nanaimo, which is facilitating the event, says the session will show businesses how to prepare for their families and loved ones and then put a plan in place to look after the business and its employees.
“What we really encourage with businesses is having business continuity,” says Lindsay.
That means having plans in place to get a business up and running after an emergency, particularly a large emergency.
“Everyone thinks of earthquakes. But there’s a number of different scenarios that occur,” she says.
This could include power outages, fires,floods, snowstorm or other acts of nature.
The second part of the session is how the city responds to emergencies.
“So the planning from the city is how do we get the city back up and running,” says Lindsay.
One way is with volunteer community assistance which helps support people in emergencies.
“They support the community by opening reception centres,” says Lindsay.
These centres would provide 72 hour assistance with the necessities.
“If it’s a large emergency we would provide food, water and shelter to any individual if people cannot stay in their homes,” she says.
For the business community, getting their family ready and teaching employees to do the same is the first step in being prepared so work can be attended to after the emergency.
“Chances are they’re not going to show up if they’re not prepared at home,” says Lindsay.
She said being prepared in an emergency makes business owners think about how everything impacts on their business and daily decisions of life.
“How would we survive for at least seven days if we don’t have access to what we usually do,” she says.
A simple task such as using a debit card won’t be possible with power outages.
Businesses that have proper backup plans will be better able to cope and come out ahead in case of an emergency that can affect access to power.
“A lot of people have things stored in their computers. If they want to contact their suppliers, they can’t because they don’t have access,” she says.
Data can be backed up into a cloud system but there is limited access to this relying on a battery life in case of a power outage.
Businesses also need to train staff to be proactive with having an evacuation plan in place, says Lindsay.
“Are staff prepared at work, because there’s no guarantee they’ll get home,” she says.
Knowing what insurance plans cover, equipment, data, tools, vehicles, security protocols that can be affected by cyber crime and IT support are all components of having a proper backup plan in place.
One plan isn’t always enough, a secondary plan or alternative location may be needed.
“Do you have a secondary place you can go to so you’re not trying to figure it all out when you’re trying to get up and running,” says Lindsay.
She says several businesses in Nanaimo have identified alternate facilities they can utilize in case of an emergency.
“Some of them have identified alternate facilities in different provinces they can go to so they don’t lose their business,” she says. “I know some that have agreements in place to switch their operations over just so they can get through the emergency.”
She has seen this occur with several local businesses that had fires and were able to cope well with a plan in place. While having a plan in place helps businesses to succeed, the opposite also occurs when there is no plan.
“I also see it where businesses had nothing in place, where they could’nt even get to their computers and the longterm effects,” says Lindsay.
“Emergencies come in so many shapes and forms.”
To register for the Emergency Preparedness session, contact the Nanaimo chamber at 250-756-1191.