Management Triage

It’s great to be back home for a while in-between teaching contracts.  If you’ve been following along, you know we’ve been on the road for some time teaching FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes.  We started out back in April in Holden Massachusetts and then we went to Austin Texas, Salt Lake City Utah, and finally ending up at the mother ship …. FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Along the way I have worked with several terrific instructors and was honored to meet so many wonderful people that simply want to learn how to more effectively teach others to be better prepared for emergencies and disasters, no strings attached.  We’ve been teaching folks from all walks of life … first responders, emergency managers, educators, health and medical professionals, elected officials, business professionals, faith-based leaders, and of course interested citizens.  How great is it to have folks like this in our communities?  I applaud each and every one of them for their willingness to give back to our communities and make them better.

Triage

Today, I wanted to discuss a technique we teach in our classes and look at how we, as business managers and leaders, use that same technique in a slightly different way.  In our classes, we spend time teaching a technique called “triage”.  If you are a fan of hospital shows on television, perhaps you’ve heard this word before.  As we teach it in our class, the term “triage” is a French word meaning to sort or prioritize.  In the medical sense, we have several (many) people with varying degrees of injuries.  We must prioritize our efforts to ensure we get the necessary treatment to those who need it most in order to survive.  In our CERT training we identify the following priorities and colors of triage …

  • Immediate (Red) – the victim has life-threatening injuries
  • Delayed (Yellow) – Injuries do not jeopardize victim’s life; treatment can be delayed
  • Minor (Green) – Walking wounded and generally ambulatory
  • Dead (Black) – No respiration after two attempts to open airway

As I recently listened to one of my co-instructors present information about triage, I began thinking about how we use this same concept in our everyday jobs as managers and leaders.  As a simple example, from an operational perspective we come into work and triage our incoming e-mail.  We scan the vast array of messages looking first for those from our supervisors and above.  Then, we look for those from our subordinates.  We then turn to messages from our customers.  Finally, we look at everything else.  With a quick scan we are able to “triage” where we need to focus our attention toward.

Throughout the day things happen.  The boss comes to us with an immediate need.  All too often, our bosses don’t properly practice their own triage and what seems to be an immediate need really might be a delayed or minor.  Hence, the term “crisis management”.  Unfortunately, while it’s not a new concept, I find this to be the management style all too often practiced.  It gets really challenging when your boss comes to you with an immediate need and yet you know it’s really dead.

The same is true with our subordinates.  Everyone comes to you with their own ideas, challenges, and roadblocks.  As the manager, you have to size-up the situation and triage where fits in with your other priorities.  And of course, there’s customer demands, along with those brought on by family and others (friends, volunteer work, etc.).  Step back for a moment and try to appreciate the number of times this past week where you have had to implement triage even though you might not have been aware of it.  No wonder you are always tired!

2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season

The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins today (Friday, June 1). The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have partnered to promote National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 27 – June 2). This week is the perfect opportunity to ensure individuals and communities, particularly those in coastal states, are aware and prepared for hurricanes and the cascading hazards they can bring with them. Remember, hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes and rip currents.  Additionally, NOAA recently released its outlook for the upcoming Atlantic Hurricane Season and while the outlook predicts a “near-normal” season, there is still much to do to ensure the safety of family, friends and neighbors.

Getting Prepared In a Year

It’s hard to believe that we are halfway along our path to preparedness.  So far we have a great start on our preparedness kit(s) and we’ve taken time to complete some hands-on activities along the way.

So, continuing on, here’s what you can do now to add to your preparedness kit:

From the grocery store, pick up the following items:

  • 1 can ready to eat soup (not condensed)
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Plain liquid bleach
  • 1 box heavy-duty garbage bags
  • Also: saline solution for contact lens case (if needed)

Things to Do:

Send some of your favorite family photos (or copies) to family members out of state for safe keeping.  With the technology that we have today you can store copies online as well.  Along with photos, you might consider this for all of your other important documents as well.

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