Emergency Preparedness Is Critical


January 20, 2012

Yesterday I had quite a scare.  I went to a local restaurant for lunch with a friend.  We were having a wonderful time and had just received the check when suddenly there was a loud explosion and the whole building shook.  My first thought was that a bomb had gone off, but in mere seconds I realized that everyone in the restaurant was alive and well.  I turned my head to the left and just two tables away from me, at the front wall of the restaurant, a car had smashed into the building.

Several of us jumped up and ran to the front wall.  I could see a woman fall out of the car to the ground.  I knew I had to get involved and help, so I quickly asked if there were any nurses or doctors in the restaurant as I began looking for towels to put under the victim’s head.  We all ran outside as one customer called 911 and three of us cared for the victim who was in and out of consciousness.  We were able to determine she had family to call, so another customer did that.  We all held her hands and told her we were with her as we waited for the ambulance.  It was cold and we did not have a blanket but we tried to keep her sheltered and as warm as possible.  She was taken away and I may never know if she made it, but I’m hoping and praying she did.

She was by herself and had she not been able to tell us, in a brief moment of consciousness, how to reach her son, we would not have known who to contact.  I thought of myself in that situation and realized that unless someone tried to go through my phone and guess who to call, I would be alone.

I wrote last year about being prepared for emergencies in the home and in the workplace.  I now add to that list that it is critical to be prepared for an emergency in your car.  

  • Place emergency contact information in your glove box in case you are in an accident and cannot communicate with rescuers.
  • Have a blanket and gloves in the trunk
  • Carry a first aid kit

*Now, from the archives of January 2011…

Stillness, and the house is quiet.  Faintly in the distance, the sirens begin to wail.  The volume increases as the wind is picking up.  My heart rate picks up a little bit too as I glance out the window and see the trees beginning to sway.  Without scaring the children, I quickly call them to me.  I tell them to put on their shoes and winter coats and grab their favorite “baby”.  I gather the house phone, my cell, and a flashlight and we all head to the basement.  We sit through the hail, the thunder, and driving rain.  Then, as quickly as it began, it’s over.

A few minutes later is when I first hear about the tornado that touched down on the other side of the city, approximately 30 miles from my house.  Not far from my childhood home.   The tornado hit areas with the precision of a scalpel. One house would be blown away while the house next to it was virtually untouched.  The city of St. Louis was hit by eleven tornadoes New Year’s eve, one of which was the F3 twister I’ve just described.  It makes the danger of the storm real and justifies my emergency preparedness plan for my family.

Preparation In the Workplace is Just As Important

I know organizations have fire drills, tornado drills, and other emergency preparedness drills.  Often I see employees going through the motions in a daze, not taking it seriously or sometimes, refusing to participate.  The danger is very real though and sometimes you have to pull out all the emergency preparedness stops.

  • Practice fire drills and other workplace safety drills as if it is a real emergency
  • Keep a few bottles of water in your office or work area
  • Bring a small flashlight and extra batteries to your workspace
  • Invest in a small first aid kit for your work area
  • Be familiar with the fastest way to evacuate
  • Make note of colleagues who may need help evacuating should an emergency occur

These are just a few tips to get you started.  It really can save your life.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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