Going to Gettysburg

One of the great enjoyments I get from teaching is the opportunity to meet new people and create new friendships. Typically, when we have our classes here on campus at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) in Emmitsburg, Maryland we will have about 50 students in class. The diversity of the class is always interesting, and when I say diversity I’m referring to the geographic areas students come from, their career backgrounds, as well as their cultural differences.

We’ve had the pleasure of teaching classes with students from just about every state in the United States including Hawaii, rural communities as well as metropolitan, tribal, and deaf and hard of hearing. With all that diversity I didn’t think I’d ever be surprised by who might attend one of our classes, but that changed on this trip.

Meet Joe Farago

We generally try to meet and greet our students as they arrive to class on the first day. Unfortunately, we had two students already in their seats as we arrived to our classroom. Much to my surprise, when I walked up to Joe and he introduced himself to me, I was pleasantly surprised he is a fellow Michigander. He shared with me that he has a background in the fire service and is living a great life with summers spent in Michigan and winters in Florida. It wasn’t until later the next day before I learned a tad more about my new friend Joe.

The next day, one of our students came up to me and my co-instructor and said “Do you know who he is?” and proceeded to show as an infomercial on You Tube. It turns out Joe has quite an acting background. Along with infomercials, Joe has had parts on the old “Seinfeld” television series as well as in the movie “Terminator”

Joe was a genuinely nice guy who was great to have in class. I don’t know if our paths will ever cross again, but I feel fortunate to have met him.


Today we had a day off from teaching as we are between classes. With my co-instructors Joe and Wilson, we took the day and went to Gettysburg to visit the Civil War battlefields. It was a picture perfect day to be out sightseeing. Sunny and warm, and not a lot of people.

Gettysburg is only a short 20-mile trip from Emmitsburg, so it’s not far. Once we arrived I saw two sides to our national treasure. On one side it reminded me of tourist places much like Branson, MO, Sault Ste. Marie, MI, or Niagara Falls. Lots of tee-shirt shops and fudge shops. One of the unique offerings here are the ghost tours that are offered at night. No – we didn’t go on a ghost tour!

On the other side is the vast countryside filled with monuments and markers recognizing who fought in the Civil War and where they fought. Reading about the Civil War in school certainly doesn’t prepare one for how large the battlefield really was once you see it. It was truly amazing and humbling.

I’m including a few pictures to share.

I hope you come back in the next couple of days because I’ll have more to share with you. Until then, best wishes!


Aloha and Mahalo from Volcano Hawaii

Well, it’s hard to believe but I’m back in St. Louis as we wrapped up a great week of training in Volcano, Hawaii. The trip home was long to say the least.

A little bit of sightseeing

Picking up where I last left off, last Thursday afternoon we finished class a little earlier than planned and so Wilson and I hopped in the car and did a little sightseeing. We drove over to see the Thurston Lava Tubes which is a 500-year old lava cave located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Lava caves like this are formed when a river of lava gradually builds solid walls and a ceiling. When the lava flow stops and the last of it passes downhill, a cave is formed. These caves can be a few feet high and only yards long, or they can stretch for miles with high ceilings. After walking through the cave and the surrounding rain forest, we drove down to see where the lava flows went into the ocean. Along the way we passed several lave fields that dated back to the early 1970’s. Finally, when we reached the ocean and the blue water of the Pacific was beautiful.

Friday was our final day in class. For me personally, it started off with a wonderful six-mile run along Crater Rim Road. As I ran past the Volcano Observatory and then the open field with the steam vents I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d ever get the opportunity to return to this place and see more of God’s wonders. I sure hope so.

Polynesian culture

We started class off with another unique opportunity. As I mentioned in previous blogs this week, our class was very diverse. Not only did we have attendees from the Hawaiian Islands, but also from Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. One of the gentlemen from Samoa was actually with us two years ago when we were first in Honolulu Hawaii. In talking with him about the Samoan culture, we agreed there are many similarities with the Native American culture. I explained that in the Native American classes we’ve taught, we usually have someone from their tribe open the class with a prayer in their native language. Along those lines, he shared with me that Samoan tradition is similar and he agreed to open our last day of class with a morning prayer in his native Samoan language. What a great way to start our last day of class.

Another cultural item we learned about was that in the various Polynesian cultures, it’s customary to give your guests a gift. After our morning prayer and before we actually started class, Wilson and I were both presented with blue conference bags with the logo of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense. Inside were homeland security/emergency management related gifts that students from each of the regional areas brought with them to give to us. What a surprise! I’ll proudly display these in my home.

This trip will go down as one of those life experiences I won’t ever forget. My good friend and teaching buddy Wilson and I made many new friends during this trip, and were able to see “up close and personal” one of the greatest natural disaster risks we have – a live volcano.

Well, let me close by sharing some final pictures from our trip.  I hope you enjoy them.

“Mahalo” to all of you who read my blogs during the trip and I hope you’ll come back starting July 28th for a new adventure.

Getting beat by a teenager in tennis, and what’s that got to do with Crisis Management?

I’m at that point in my life where one of the greatest joys I have is playing tennis with my teenage grandson. I’ve always looked at competition through sports as a great bonding opportunity for fathers and sons.  My grandson is taking lessons once a week at local club near us.  Over the past couple of years, he’s gotten pretty darn good.  To help him practice between lessons, I serve as his “sparring partner”.  We find time to play a couple of times a week together.

When I was younger (i.e. high school and college) I played some racquetball, but never tennis.  What I know about tennis has come from my being an easy mark for “the kid”.  But with my competitive nature, I’ve learned and practiced along the way to the point where I can actually give him a run for his money – oh that’s right, it’s my money.

Anyway, I just got in from playing tennis this evening with my grandson and while I was out on the court “getting schooled” again, I began thinking about how playing tennis can be similar to what we do in crisis management.


Before you can effectively (operative word) play tennis … or manage a crisis … you have to develop knowledge and skills of the game.  The easiest way to do this of course is to be coached by professionals – those that have gone down the path before you.  Unfortunately, some think that because it’s not “rocket science” they can skip this step (anyone can do it) and just start playing.  Taking this approach generally means greater chances of losing vs. winning.  Trust me on this one.  Take the time to learn about crisis management.  Talk to others that have actually responded to and recovered from some type of crisis.


In past blogs, I’ve mentioned a saying a fellow instructor has used many times in classes we’ve taught.  The saying is “people will do what they’ve practiced, not what they’ve been told.”  How true that is in tennis (or any other sport) and in crisis management.  In order to be good at tennis, you have to practice.  In order to respond appropriately when a crisis incident occurs, we have to practice.  We practice by conducting table top exercises, drills, and full-scale exercises to name just a few.  Look for opportunities to exercise (practice) your plan.

Size-up and take action

In tennis, we are constantly sizing up our opponent and how he or she is playing.  We are always looking for an opportunity to score another point.  It’s called gamesmanship.  In crisis management we also perform size-up to understand what the current situation is and what are capabilities there are “to score another point”.  Our size-up will help us to determine our game plan.  At that point, we need to take action.  All the planning and preparation in the world doesn’t do any good if we don’t step on to the court.

Command and Control

In both tennis and crisis management, if you aren’t in control, you will be controlled.  I hate to admit that tonight the kid controlled the “old man” two out of three sets.  In tennis, as well as in crisis management, a positive mindset is one of the most important skills you can possess.  In tennis, you don’t want your opponent to see your frustration or fear.  In crisis management, we don’t want our teams to see our frustration or fear either.  The best crisis management leaders reflect a sense of calm and order even when everything else appears to be dysfunctional around them.

Lessons learned

The only way to win is to improve skills that may not be your strongest and enhance those that you may be pretty good at.  If I realize my serves are weak, I need to spend time practicing serves before our next “big” match.  In crisis management, we need to perform a lessons learned activity (i.e. debriefing or hot-wash) session.  Our goal is to learn from the experience what worked well and what needs improvement.  Then, take those lessons learned and use them to improve.

Well, it’s time to take a couple of ibuprofen.  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I’ll be posting again on August 1 and I hope you’ll come back.  In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this blog or any others I’ve written.  If there’s a particular topic you’d like to have me write about, please let me know.  I welcome your feedback.

Hey, I can do this in Lincoln …..

Today was Day Two for our CERT Train-the-Trainer class, and everyone came back!  As an Instructor, it’s a great day when all of your students come back.

The importance of feedback

Yesterday, we discussed the importance of feedback.  Students need feedback to know how they are doing in class.  Instructors also need feedback to know how they are doing in class.  As a guy that views the glass as half-full vs half-empty, I’m of the belief it’s beneficial to have daily feedback from our students so that we can make “mid-course corrections” to improve and thereby deliver value through knowledge and experiences.  We shared with the class a fun exercise that we generally conduct at the end of the day, but it proved to be an equally great starter exercise first thing in the morning.  The purpose of the exercise is to obtain instant feedback from everyone in class, it’s that simple.

All you need to conduct the exercise is a soft ball that can be gently tossed between students.  We find the soft “koosh” balls work well.  For those not familiar with what a koosh ball is, I encourage you to watch Season 6, Episode 8 of the television program “King of Queens” that starred Kevin James and Leah Remini.  In this very funny episode, Doug lost the koosh ball Deacon got from his son and tries to get it back (“who-who”).

To conduct the exercise, we have everyone get up and form a circle with everyone facing the center of the circle.  One person has the koosh ball and then, they GENTLY (operative word) toss the ball to someone else in the circle.  That person catches the ball and again shares with the group one item that addresses what they liked about the class, or what they don’t like about the class, or what one thing they’ve learned that was new.  This process continues until everyone has had the chance to provide their feedback.

The exercise generally can be completed in about 15-20 minutes for a class of about 20 students.  For instructors, we get meaningful feedback in a relatively short time.  For students, the exercise provides the opportunity to get involved in their own learning and perhaps make things better for all.

Student “teach backs”

A key part of any successful train-the-trainer class is practice.  Future CERT instructors need to practice teaching the skills in the CERT Basic Training course, and they need to practice incorporating the information they are learning in the CERT Basic Train-the-Trainer course.  They also need to practice giving feedback

The process for the teach-back includes both preparation and presentation.

  1. Students pair up and select a block of instruction pre-selected from the CERT Basic curriculum.
  2. Students are given time to develop their presentation.  Paired “instructors” are expected to be active participants in their teach-back.  They are allotted 10 minutes to be equally shared.
  3. While each pair of “instructors” is delivering their teach back, the other students fulfill the role of the “audience” in the class.
  4. After each presentation, the “audience” will complete a feedback checklist.  The audience will also give “instructors” feedback orally.

Teach-backs always prove to be a very well-received exercise in this course.  While it’s true some are nervous when we first get started, when everything is said and done, everyone enjoys the opportunity to practice and improve!

The Nebraska State Capital

I want to close out this blog with sharing a quick stroll I took over to the State Capital Building.

Nebraska has to have one of the most unique Capitals I’ve seen.  While most Capitals are typically short with a domed rotunda, Nebraska has a rather tall Capital standing at 400 feet tall.  This is actually the third Capital building that’s been in the state.  It was completed in 1932 at a cost of $9.8 million and was paid in full – no debt!   Positioned on top of the Capital is a 19-feet tall, nine ton, statue created by Lee Lawrie called “the Sower”.

Inside the Capital, Nebraska’s one-house Legislature, the “Unicameral” meets.  In government, unicameralism is the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber.

I think tomorrow I’m going to head back to the Capital and see more and learn more about the state.  Until then, here’s some pictures from today …

the Capital from a couple of blocks away.  Notice the "Sower" on top?

the Capital from a couple of blocks away. Notice the “Sower” on top?

Looking up from the Capital steps

Looking up from the Capital steps

Is this the front door or side door?

Is this the front door or side door?

A gorgous hallway inside the Capital

A gorgous hallway inside the Capital

Looking up at the Rotunda

Looking up at the Rotunda

The chamber where Nebraska's Unicameral meets

The chamber where Nebraska’s Unicameral meets

Getting Started in Lincoln, Nebraska

Sunny, clear, a bit humid, and highs in the low 90’s.  We are having great weather in Lincoln, Nebraska.  You just can’t feel bad on a day like today.

We’re starting our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer class.  We have 18 students in class for the next three days from across the State of Nebraska.  These dedicated 18 come from various walks of life including public safety, education, health and medical, as well as ordinary citizens that are looking to help their communities be better prepared.  There are two somewhat unique characteristics of this class.  Several students represent the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and several others represent education, and more specifically community college and university.  While having different backgrounds, they come with a common goal – to learn how to be a more effective instructor of the CERT Basic training sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

This is my first trip to Nebraska, and that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy the blessing I’ve been given as a contracted instructor of the CERT program.  I’ve been able to travel around and see this great country of ours and meet the wonderful people that make up our communities.  CERT volunteers specifically have proven themselves to be a very committed group of people that want to give back to the community.

Nebraska has 11 registered Citizen Corps Councils spread across the state. If you aren’t familiar with Citizen Corps, the mission of Citizen Corps is to locally have a process and organizational structure in place to harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service.  Counsels can positively impact to a community’s ability to be safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds.  There are five federally sponsored partner programs under the Citizen Corps umbrella including Fire Corps, USAonWatch, Medical reserve Corps (MRC), Volunteers in Police (VIPS), Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and of course CERT.  Like other states in the country, many of the Nebraska CERT teams are very active and functional.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are teams that are either just starting or are reengineering themselves.

The core concept of CERT is preparing individuals to take care of themselves and families when a disaster occurs.    The range of disasters is great across the United States.  In Nebraska, according to the Nebraska’s Risk Assessment Survey results ( http://www.nema.ne.gov/pdf/hazmitplan.pdf ), the state has identified the following risks:

High Risk

  • Thunderstorm
  • Severe Winter Storm
  • Tornado
  • Terrorism

Medium Risk

  • Drought
  • Agricultural
  • Flooding
  • Wildfire
  • Chemical

Low Risk

  • Earthquake

While CERT voluteers may not ever be directly involved in response activities to any of these risks, they certainly can help themselves and their families (and their neighbors) become better prepared for most, if not all of them.  And by being better prepared that translates into less demand on our public safety system.

Tower Building Exercise

One of the “hands-on” exercises we did in class this morning was the infamous “Tower Building” exercise.  The purpose of the exercise is to introduce the participants to each other and illustrate the types of skills and abilities that CERTs require.

I really like this exercise and have used it (and variations of it) in other training classes I’ve conducted.  I want to share the instructions with you in case you want to use it in training you might conduct (i.e. Leadership, Project Management, etc.).

Here’s a list of the items needed to conduct the exercise:

  • Scissors (1 for every 5 participants)
  • Tape (1 roll for every 5 participants)
  • Two pieces of cardboard, approximately 8 by 10 inches  (1 set for every 5 participants)
  • Forty pieces of construction paper, 8.5 by 11 inches (1 set for every 5 participants)

And here’s how we make the magic happen:

  1. Assign the participants to groups of five
  2. Distribute the materials to each group
  3. Tell the groups that they will spend the next 10 minutes planning and designing a freestanding tower that stands at least 5 feet tall from the bottom of the structure to the top.  Explain that you will tell the groups when to begin and that they will have 5 minutes from that point to construct the tower.  Emphasize that the first 5 minutes is for planning only.
  4. Tell the groups when to begin their work and when to end.

At the end of the allotted time, facilitate a group discussion of what the groups have learned through the exercise.  Keep in mind that the exercise is not intended to be just an “ice-breaker.”  The exercise also demonstrates how unfamiliar people can work on an unfamiliar problem under unfamiliar conditions and in a time-compressed environment to reach a common goal.  These are the conditions under which CERTs will need to work to reach desired outcomes.

Well, at the close of the day we ended up where we planned and we seemed to have shared a lot of knowledge.  Tomorrow, we’ll continue to work on our instructional skills including our first of two student teach-backs.  We’ll also continue to review the material in the basic CERT class.  I hope you’ll come back and check-in with us.

I’ll leave you with a couple of class pictures.

Our room setup just before the start of class.

Our room setup just before the start of class.

Nebraska State Coordinator Citizen Corps/Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator welcomes the class to Day 1. Mr. Ryan Lowry

Mr. Ryan Lowry, Nebraska State Citizen Corps/Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator welcomes the class to Day 1.

fellow instructor "Joe" leading a unit of instruction.

fellow instructor “Joe” leading a unit of instruction.

One group building their tower.  Great teamwork!

One group building their tower. Great teamwork!

A little debriefing about the Tower building.

A little debriefing about the Tower building.

Hello from Nebraska!

I know what you are probably thinking …. what’s with this guy?  He hasn’t blogged in months and all of a sudden he’s jumped back into it, blogging three times in the past two weeks.  And you are probably wondering (maybe hoping?), is there more?  Oh ya.

Well, I just landed in Omaha, Nebraska from St. Louis and I’m on my way over to Lincoln.  Hmmm, that almost sounds like the beginning of a math story problem.  Anyway, I’m in Lincoln this week to teach two CERT classes for the State of Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and Citizen Corps.

The flight over this morning was wonderful … thank you Southwest.  Departure weather was clear and sunny.  We had an on time departure, and while the plane was almost full, the two seats next to me remained empty.  It was like flying first class – ya gotta love it.  Not sure why people don’t like sitting next to me.  Maybe it’s got something to do with me grabbing the “puke bag” as soon as I sit down on the aisle seat and acting like I’m going to vomit?  Nah, what are the chances?  Coming into Omaha, the ride got pretty bumpy due to a local storm that was moving through. But, the flight crew handled things well.  All wheels up and all wheels down.

Once I arrived in Omaha, I found my way over to the rental car counter, and the representative upgraded me from a compact car to a Lincoln MXZ.  Let’s see, no one sitting next to me on the flight and now an upgrade.  Hey, this trip is going well so far.  And by the way, I rented this car through COSTCO (www.COSTCO.com ) on their travel site.  Wow, what a savings compared to booking it myself.  If you don’t have a COSTCO membership and you travel, get a membership and use it for the travel discounts.  It will payback, very quickly.

On the drive from Omaha to Lincoln I made two stops.  My first stop was at a local “Kum & Go”.  I first ran across these gas and convenience stores in Springfield, MO.  My second stop was at the Melia West Visitor Center at the Melia West rest stop along the Blue Star Memorial Highway, I-80 in the Great Platte Valley.  I’m including a few pictures that provide a little narrative of this area which goes back to the prehistoric Indians who were in this area.

Well, tomorrow we start our first class which will be CERT Train-the-Trainer.  Although I’ve blogged about similar classes in the past, each class is differant and I’ll look forward to bringing you stories from our classes this week.  I’m looking forward to making some new friends while we are here and helping them discover how they can become the instructor they want to be.  I hope you will come back tomorrow.

And here’s the pics ….

Let's get going

Let’s get going

All this space, wow!  Just like in first class.

All this space, wow! Just like in first class.

Fields are still flooded in St. Charles county in Miissouri

Fields are still flooded in St. Charles county in Miissouri

Nuf said

Nuf said

I-80 is part of the Blue Star Highway

I-80 is part of the Blue Star Highway

Stop to check things out at the Visitor Center

Stop to check things out at the Visitor Center

History of Melia

History of Melia

Page 1 of the Great platte Valley story

Page 1 of the Great platte Valley story

Page 2

Page 2

and Page 3.

and Page 3.

Hello from Strongsville, Ohio!

I’m baaaack …. and I’m excited to be blogging again.  Let’s start by catching up on a few things.

My job

You may remember that I went back to work full-time last August.  My job has truly been a blessing for me and my family.  The company I work for is a wonderful, strong Fortune 300 company.  The work environment is friendly and collaborative.  In a word, I’d say “encouraging”.  My teammates are some of the smartest and hardest working people I’ve had the pleasure to work with, and they like to have fun at too!  The frosting on the cake is I work for a terrific boss that knows our business well and has put a lot of faith and trust in me.  They say you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, but under his leadership I’ve learned a lot about working with people, our company, and about business continuity.  And in the short 10 months since I came on board, our team (my boss and I) have assumed the additional responsibility for physical security and emergency response and safety.  Lots of opportunity, and I’m loving it!

For the past several months, I’ve saved up enough vacation time so that I’m now able to work in a few contract teaching assignments a year.  This weekend for example, I’m in Strongsville, Ohio which is a suburb just outside of Cleveland.  I’m joined this weekend by my good friend “Wilson”.  We’ve taught together in the past (you can go back and read some of my previous blogs from Reno, Nevada and Salt Lake City, UT).  Wilson is a dynamic instructor we all want to learn from.  He’s smart and knows his information and delivers it in a fun and engaging way.  And personally for me, he’s become a great friend.

Lima Company Memorial

Yesterday, we had the pleasure (honor) to come across the “Lima Company Memorial” .  Just by accident the truck that carries the exhibit was in our hotel parking lot getting ready to leave for their event sight.  They were joined by several members of the “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle group as well as the Strongsville Fire Department and Police Department.  The exhibit “Eyes of Freedom” is a memorial to 22 marines and one Navy corpsman from Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment who died serving their country while deployed in Iraq.  Most of the 22 were from Ohio.  The memorial includes several large panels painted by Anita Miller who herself is an Ohio artist.  The memorial travels the country telling the story of love and sacrifice, and serves as a reminder to all of us about the great price men and women are will to pay for this great country of ours.

Our class

So Wilson and I are here working with the Ohio Office of Emergency Management teaching FEMA’s CERT (http://www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams ) Train-the-Trainer class.  We have a nice sized class of 30 students who come from diverse backgrounds including law enforcement, the fire service, emergency management, health, education, and community volunteers.  Like the other classes I’ve blogged about, this one is fast-paced and overflowing with information that will help our students become better instructors of the popular CERT curriculum within their communities.

Well, we are looking forward to Day Two.  We’ll be spending our day reviewing the basic CERT curriculum and the instructor skills necessary to deliver a class that students will enjoy and learn how to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

And tonight, we’ve got a field trip scheduled to catch a Cleveland Indians game.  It should be fun.

I hope you’ll come back tomorrow and read more about my trip to Strongsville and our CERT training.

In the meantime … stay safe and I’ll leave you with some pictures. I hope you enjoy them.

I’m Coming Back – Stay Tuned

Starting June 14, 2013 Tim Bonno will return to blogging.  Join Tim on a road trip adventure to Strongsville, Ohio.  We hope you will return then and catch up with an old friend.

The dreaded “P” word

Planning!  Have you ever noticed how much planning we do throughout our lives?

This time of ever, everyone seems to be planning for holiday get togethers, either because they are hosting one or because they are an invited guest.   Guest lists, food and drinks all require planning, as do travel arrangements.   We are also “planning” our holiday gift giving – how much to give and to whom.

Then there’s family budgeting, educational planning, Long-term care planning, vacation (holiday) planning, retirement planning, estate planning, career planning, planning an upcoming wedding, and the list goes on, and on, and on.

At work, many of us have entered into end-of-year planning where we are documenting our accomplishments, or as supervisors, we are planning our year-end reviews with our subordinates.  This time of year I’m always reminded of that great scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) puts a deposit down on his backyard pool because he’s “planning” on his annual bonus.  And of course, many have started strategic planning for 2013 Goals and Objectives.

All of this planning got me to think about the planning that’s the core of business continuity.  I referred to the Disaster Recovery Journal to see what references the Journal has with respect to planning.  There, I found the generally accepted definition of Business Continuity planning as “the process which occurs, based on risk evaluation and business impact analysis, to identify procedures, priorities and resources for:

  • emergency response operations
  • business continuity strategies for the organization’s functions and supporting infrastructure
  • crisis communications; and
  • coordination with external agencies

The planning process should encompass response through restoration, and result in the creation of one or more of the following types of plan documents:  business continuity plans, disaster recovery plans, crisis management plans or pandemic plans.

Contingency Planning is the process of developing advanced arrangements and procedures that enable an organization to respond to an undesired event that negatively impacts the organization.

The technical component of business continuity planning is referred to as Disaster Recovery Planning.

Enterprise-wide Planning is the overarching master plan covering all aspects of business continuity within the entire organization, which shouldn’t be confused with Work Area Recovery Planning which is the business continuity planning process of identifying the needs and preparing procedures and personnel for use at the work area facility.

Of course, all good business continuity planners know that before we can say a plan is valid, it has to be exercised.  And of course we need to develop and Exercise Plan, which is defined as a plan designed to periodically evaluate tasks, teams, and procedures that are documented in business continuity, plans to ensure the plan’s viability. This can include all or part of the BC plan, but should include mission critical components.

Some service organizations also conduct what’s known as Service Continuity Planning – which is a process used to mitigate, develop, and document procedures that enable an organization to recover critical services after a business interruption.

Out of all this planning activity come plans – all kind of plans (not all inclusive) ….

  • Business Continuity
  • Contingency
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Exercise
  • Service Continuity
  • Work Area Recovery

And you thought having multiple Standards and Certifications was confusing.

Let me leave you with this famous quote from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower – “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”

Getting Prepared In a Year

Listen, let’s get back on the road to getting prepared.  Here’s a few more things you can do now to add to your preparedness kit:

From your local Grocery store, pick up the following items:

  • One box of Graham crackers
  • assorted plastic containers with lids
  • assorted safety pins
  • dry cereal

Things to Do:

Arrange for a friend or neighbor to help your children in an emergency if you are at work

Frankenstorm Preparedness

By definition, a disaster is a sudden, unplanned calamitous event that causes great damage or loss.  A key concept is that in most cases it’s sudden and unplanned.  Yes, there are exceptions.  One exception is occurring right now, with “Frankenstorm”.

As Hurricane Sandy barrels north from the Caribbean to meet two other powerful winter storms, experts said it doesn’t matter how strong the storm is when it hits land, the rare hybrid storm that follows will cause havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.  A recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says “We’re looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people”.

People AND businesses along the east coast have had a few days now, and a couple yet to come, to get prepared before the expected storm(s) hit.  Those who are wise are either already prepared or will use this opportunity (it’s a positive word) to become prepared.  In the end, whether or not this turns out to be as severe as forecasters are saying, they will be part of the solution.  However, there will be those who won’t prepare and will simply continue to be part of the problem.  What a shame.

Knowing what I know, especially about how easy it is to get prepared, I always wonder why people chose not to prepare even in the face of the inevitable.  Several years ago, I stumbled across an article titled “The “Disaster Dozen -Top Twelve Myths of Disaster Preparedness” written by Paul Purcell.  Hopefully, those on the east coast are talking about preparedness and not using these excuses …

  • “If something happens all I have to do is call 911.”
  • “All I need is a 72-hour kit with a flashlight, first aid kit, some food and water, and a radio.”
  • “My insurance policy will take care of everything.”
  • “Nothing like that could ever happen here.”

We know from past experience that 9-1-1 may be overloaded in a large-scale disaster.  The normal few minute response times most of us have come to rely on in normal times most likely will become hours or days in a true disaster.  So we will be on our own.

We MUST prepare to be on our own for at least 72-hours, but in reality we may be on our own for longer periods of time.  Remember Hurricane Katrina?  Consider what you and your family will need for the next 7-10 days.  Did you know each person will require one gallon of water per day?  And don’t forget your pets (read my previous blog).

Check your insurance policies closely.  Call your insurance agent NOW and make sure you have the appropriate coverage’s and ask your agent what you will need to supply if you need to file a claim.  If you will need pictures and/or receipts to support your claim, you might still have time to gather these important items.  And then, make sure you store them in a safe and accessible location that won’t be affected by the disaster.  Maybe e-mail your important files to a relative in a distant city.

Lastly, why do some say things like this can’t happen here or there?  Is there a special law of science or government that makes it impossible?  In reality, bad things do happen and we have to be prepared.

So how can people along the east coast get prepared even in the face of Frakenstorm?  Check these links out from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready.gov website …

Hurricane preparedness – www.ready.gov/hurricanes

Flooding preparedness – www.ready.gov/floods

Winter storm preparedness – www.ready.gov/winter-weather