A Critical Event Management Company

Staying Connected in Crisis

  Randy Haight

I am pretty sure that organizations are now re-thinking their Crisis Response Plans following the epic events that hit Southeast Texas, Florida and Mexico this month. If you are not – maybe you should. As I have said in the past, hope is not a strategy and having a viable Crisis Response Plan should be part of every organization’s effort to recognize, respond to, mitigate, and recover from a serious crisis event.

I responded to both the Houston and Florida events on behalf of FocusPoint International and our clients. Here is what I can tell you from my first-hand observations:

The government cannot respond to every emergency when they are overcome by the sheer magnitude of an event such as Hurricane Harvey or Irma. The 911 call center in Harris County/Houston was overwhelmed. Wait times for someone to answer the incoming 911 calls was 5-7 minutes and in most cases, they were only able to take the caller’s information and advise them that they will get to them when they can.

One of our clients who had employees all over Southeast Texas contacted FocusPoint and utilized our 24-hour Crisis Response Center (CRC) to handle all of their emergency calls to and from employees, and their management and security team. Using our CRC, employees can report their location, situation and other information immediately, without any wait, and have it relayed to their company. In emergencies, our Crisis Response Center personnel engage multiple emergency sources in an effort to get a response to those in need. Also, they provide emergency call support, giving information to the caller that may help them save their lives.

Furthermore, our CRC set up a Situation Map that is constantly updated, providing a visual reference of where a company’s employees are located, (including their GPS coordinates), their situation, and other pertinent information. Each employee is color-coded to indicate if they are in emergency status or not. Our client was provided a link to the Situation Map and could access it at any time to see the status of their personnel.

Our team provides a complete history of all calls via our CRISIS Operations System. This is an automated operational record that our Crisis Response Center utilizes to log all operational information, including incoming and outgoing calls, caller details and status, etc. This log is provided to our client several times each day.

If your Crisis Response Plans do not include setting up a communications system for all your personnel, now is the time to make that change. Consider utilizing a third-party Emergency Operations Center to manage your critical communications. In doing so, you will provide your team with a much-needed communications system to support them when no one else can.

I would recommend that you steer away from standard call center operations for the following reasons:

  • Their personnel are usually not trained as emergency or crisis responders
  • They may not have the ability to support your operation with mapping solutions
  • They may not be able to provide a custom call log/report showing the status of all calls for service, situational updates, etc.

If your organization needs assistance developing a Crisis Response Plan or evaluating your already existing plan, you should seek the services of a proven Crisis Management/Crisis Response team with a history of successful crisis responses.

Crisis Management is all about considering your needs in advance of a crisis and getting those plans and assets in place before it happens.