Incident / Crisis Management
If a large earthquake strikes and your office building is uninhabitable, does your organisation have the ability to continue operating?
Or, if one of your staff, driving a company branded vehicle, caused a road traffic crash which resulted in the death of an innocent, three-month-old baby, do you and your senior managers know the first three things they should be doing to handle the incident appropriately?
As the CEO (or a senior manager) are you confident that your organisation has the required systems (plans, policies and procedures) required to handle a significant incident? Have you demonstrated to your board members that these systems are up to scratch?
Does your organisation even define what an ‘incident’ or ‘crisis’ is? My preferred definition is: an event that results in the serious injury or death of an employee or stakeholder; or disrupts the quality of the product or service your organisation produces; or causes negative publicity for your brand.
A problem that many organisations have faced is that the systems (policies, plans and procedures) they have in place, FAILED MISERABLY when they were required. There are many reasons a system can fail including inadequate training, the system is out of date, the system has not been practiced and tested or lessons from past mistakes have not been learned.
In order to be prepared for a major incident or crisis, your organisation needs several things in place:
1. Incident / Crisis Management, Health and Safety, Risk Management and Business Continuity systems which are updated regularly.
2. Identification of potential risks and incidents, in all areas of your business.
3. Training for the staff and managers who will be responsible for handling an incident. [Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS) is the system used by all New Zealand government and response agencies when handling any incident. CIMS, or a variant of it, would be an ideal tool for any organisation]
4. Testing and practicing your systems to ensure they are actually going to work.
Over my 25-year career on the rescue helicopter, I was regularly dealing with other peoples crises and disasters. Unfortunately, as a helicopter crewman or as Operations Manager, I also had to deal with many of our own incidents, including our helicopter crashing, one of our planes running off the runway, a stretcher collapsing with a patient on it and people “falling off” the winch – to name a few.
Luckily, we had systems in place to deal with each of these incidents.
Actually, there was no luck involved! We spent countless hours, and tens-of-thousands of dollars a year, to ensure that we had regularly updated systems, highly trained and practised staff and the ability to learn from our past mistakes. We regularly held ‘what if’ exercises, discussing what we would do if we were suddenly involved in an incident. All of this preparing ensured we were ready when the ‘unexpected’ occurred. Mainly because we always expected the unexpected.
Since 2014 I have written and facilitated over 20 multi-agency (Police, fire, ambulance, civil defence, hospital boards, harbour masters, etc.) dynamic simulation exercises in every Police District around New Zealand. The exercises were designed to test New Zealand’s readiness for a Mass Rescue Operation – an incident such as a cruise ship sinking near our coast – with nearly 3,000 people onboard.
Our exercises are introduced as a safe place to learn and make mistakes, as well as a place to get things right. Exercises which use ‘dynamic simulation’ are designed to react to the participants actions, as opposed to leading them down a pre-designed path. The dynamic nature of the exercise allows for maximum learning and participation, and include realtime events such as Twitter or Facebook posts.
If you want to eliminate those nagging doubts and assure yourself, your board and your stakeholders, that your teams are well trained, your systems are up-to-date and and that your people will be able to confidently handle any incident which is thrown in their direction, read on.
I can assist your organisation in three different ways:
Incident Management Training: As a certified CIMS instructor, I can organise a practical, tailored CIMS course for your organisation, or I can offer a NZQA certified CIMS course. Either course will ensure that your team is ready to manage any type of incident that you might encounter.
Dynamic Simulation Exercises: I can develop custom exercises which test your people and the way they work with your various policies, plans and procedures. I work closely with your management team to ensure I understand what needs to be tested, and develop realistic scenarios which test them, giving you confidence that your organisation is ready for the unexpected.
Review of your plans, policies and procedures: I can review your systems to ensure that they make sense, are up to date and meet legislation or ‘best practice’.
To discuss your incident management needs, drop me an email or give me a call on +64-29-233-8284.