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I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Disaster Plan! (Boy was I wrong)

Posted by Addy Kujawa, CAE on Mar 23, 2016 12:00:00 PM

emergency_disaster_plan.jpgI have a disaster plan because I had a disaster and during it I was thinking, “Why didn’t I make time to write my plan?” I was in the middle of a personal fray between an attendee and an exhibitor—shouting, throwing things and swearing—all in the middle of our association meeting.

The attendee escaped into a meeting room, and I had to go in and try to convince him to leave the session quietly. He decided to make a huge scene in front of the entire room full of attendees. Next, the hotel manager came in with me and the attendee decided he would allow the hotel manager to escort him out. While walking through some exhibits, the attendee and exhibitor managed to get into it again, with tables tossed and shouting resumed. I had called the police and two Washington D.C. police officers were waiting at the top of the escalators, hands on guns and hips as we brought our attendee upstairs. It was an intimidating situation and one for which we did not have clarity (alas, no plan!) and I was given several options: kick the attendee out of the hotel, file a complaint, start an investigation, etc.

Writing a disaster plan kept falling to the bottom of my list, until I experienced a situation where I wished I had one. Don’t wait until you’ve experienced something like that to make a point of finding time to create yours.

After that meeting, our new meeting planner wrote a plan—it was one of the major stretch goals we had and something we felt we had to have going forward. Because, you may be right. You may never face anything that feels overwhelming or doesn’t have a clear path. But, what if you’re wrong? If you are wrong, what will that cost you?

Having a plan you developed when you were thinking clearly and had time to address what you, and perhaps your team, felt would be the best course of action for each situation will prove worth its weight in gold when you experience a situation where emotions are high or quick thinking is not just necessary, but essential.

Now you want to have one, but where do you start? Your best bet, right now, is to:

  • Attend ISAE’s workshop on business continuity planning. For an afternoon and small fee, you’ll walk out of the training with your template.
  • Ask your peers. I do not believe in reinventing the wheel, so I love to find others who have already done what I need to do and ask permission to use their material. Feel free to contact me—I have both an annual conference plan and a full business continuity plan. Remember though, these are definitely NOT one size fits all.
  • Take the templates and samples you either create or receive and go through them and work on them to fit your organization. A find and replace to change the organization name will not help you become familiar with all the pieces and give you the foundation of understanding that you can use in a moment of uncertainty or even panic.

Schedule yourself a recurring meeting for an hour a day, for the next couple of months to work on your plan. If you use that time, you’ll have exactly what you need in no time!

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Topics: Emergency Response Plan

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