As Caribbean people we are all too familiar with the adage, ‘When it rains it pours’ and we have certainly had some torrential downpours over the last few weeks. Between the potential threat of an explosive volcanic eruption of La Soufriere and the soaring number of local positive COVID-19 cases, we can all attest to the fact that it is not only raining, but it is pouring. Consequently, such weathers place great pressure on our leaders to exercise wisdom, creativity and preparedness.
For instance, should the La Soufriere erupt explosively during normal business hours are businesses prepared? Although, most businesses are located in the safe zone, a significant number of employees reside in the danger zone, in the north of St. Vincent. Consequently, the actions taken in the initial minutes of an emergency are critical and organisations must be prepared to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. One way of making sure that your organisation is not caught with ‘its pants down’ is to develop an emergency response plan. This will involve a risk assessment to identify potential emergency scenarios. The nature of people in an emergency is to head for the nearest exit with ‘an all man for themselves’ mindset and Vincentians are no exception. For this reason, panic, fear and anxiety among employees and customers within your facility may prove to be more destructive than the emergency itself.
Therefore, a good understanding of what can happen will help you to determine the resources that are required and develop the plans and procedures necessary for your business to be best prepared for any eventuality. In light of our current predicament, it is time for our leaders to ‘make hay while the sun shines’. At the very least, all business facilities should have an emergency plan and the plan should include the preferred method of reporting the emergency; an evacuation plan; emergency route assignments; the contact information of individuals with duties in the emergency plan and the procedures for employees who are responsible for remaining and shutting down the facility.
An emergency plan is essential for all organisations. There are many external circumstances that are beyond businesses control and hence, the most that can be done is to be prepared to face every obstacle head on. Otherwise, the alternative is doing nothing and waiting until everything ‘hits the fan’.
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