“Everybody has a plan . . . until they get punched in the face.” Mike Tyson.
In his prime, Mike Tyson created a crisis for opposing fighters. Many claimed to have a plan for dealing with Iron Mike, but the plan didn’t hold up under pressure. And Mike knew it.
Planning for a crisis is difficult, but necessary. Crises by their very nature are unexpected, so you cannot plan a detailed response in advance. However, there are certain things you can plan now. As 2018 approaches, it is a good idea to start planning for next year by thinking about the following issues.
The media will want information if there is a crisis at your facility. Who will speak for the company? Here’s a hint: it may not be your highest ranking official. It may instead be an engineer or other person with an understanding of your plant, mine or pipeline. Determine who the likely candidates are now and train them on how to respond.
Agencies often overwhelm crises with responders. Their alternative is being criticized for not taking a crisis seriously (think President Bush after Hurricane Katrina).
The media will respond with large numbers as well.
Where will you put all these people? You will need separate space for you, for government responders and for the media, as well as a briefing area large enough for everyone. Think about your facility and how you might make the best use of your space.
Practice Makes Perfect
Do your employees know who to call after a spill or release? What if the spill happens after normal business hours?
Training on spill and release reporting is incredibly important. When and where to call will depend on what and how much material gets spilled. Figuring this out under pressure is not always easy.
Tabletop exercises are available to drill employees on spill reporting and other crises. These exercises can be used to train and test employees under simulated conditions.
The Bottom Line
Good managers work hard to prevent crises. Great managers plan responses they hope to never implement.
This article was written by M. Shane Harvey, Jackson Kelly PLLC.