Preparedness Starts with a Dialogue

By Francisco Ianni, director of preparedness for the American Red Cross Oregon Region. Francisco will present “Preparing Your Business for a Disaster,” a seminar to introduce small businesses to the world of emergency preparedness, and to help ensure business resiliency after a disaster.

Just like a fire starts with a spark, or an earthquake starts with a rumble, disaster preparedness starts with a dialogue. At home among our family members, we might have a conversation around the dinner table about what to do in the event of an emergency or disaster. We would make sure we take preventative action by putting together a preparedness kit for the house and our car, have enough supplies to sustain ourselves for three days or more, learn first aid and CPR, and agree on a meeting place in case we’re separated by a disaster.

In Oregon and southwest Washington, one half of employed people work for small businesses which are defined as less than 25 employees. If a significant disaster causes these businesses to close down, as many as 40 percent of them will never reopen their doors. Imagine the impact that this would have on our community, and our economy.

The ability to empower and arm small businesses with preparedness information and tools is critical to commercial resiliency. We take seriously back-up plans for computer systems and data. Why wouldn’t we employ the same back-up or emergency plan for co-workers? Even if you have operable systems after a disaster, who will be there to run them? If there is extreme flooding, a power outage, or something even bigger such as an earthquake, every employee is going to be at home, taking care of his or her family. In a small-business environment, the people we work with are like extended family members. Why wouldn’t we employ the same preparedness dialogue with employees and co-workers, just like we do at home?

Getting the conversation started is not difficult. Some might argue that nothing’s going to happen or insure us that they are prepared at home. Good! We can enlist their help in preparing the workplace.

The first step is awareness. What are the possibilities? What could happen that would prevent us from coming to work or opening our doors?  Next, we must agree that preparing for a possible disaster is important and that we can do something about it – whether it’s a co-worker or customer having medical emergency, or a natural catastrophe. The last step is engaging in actions that will ensure safety and resiliency. This is a core of Red Cross services and we are eager to share them with you.

Learn how prepare your business for disaster on February 13th at Mercy Corps NW. Seminar:
Preparing Your Business for a Disaster,” February 13th, 6 – 9pm.
Reserve your spot now!


Francisco Ianni is the Emergency Preparedness Director for the Oregon Red Cross. In this role, his focus is to increase the emergency preparedness and disaster readiness of communities across Oregon by providing individuals and communities with models to improve their skills, knowledge, resources, and sustainable practices to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies ranging from single family fires to large-scale disasters.

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