Monday, September 22, 2014

Someone Else's Crisis: Don't Let It Become Yours

      The crisis that can put you out of business, temporarily or permanently, is not always of your own making.
      Frequently we remind clients how very important it is to survey their surroundings and try to identify the things that can go wrong outside of their own facilities and property. You may have a small neighborhood business, or a medium size auto repair shop, or a well established community bank, or a nursery school or popular watering hole/restaurant.
     You may be operating in the shadow of an elevated expressway that has cars and big trucks whistling by within blocks of your business, or a CSX or Southern Railroad track that runs near your neighborhood on its way to and from bigger businesses not all that far away.
     You may have been going to work every day for years without ever thinking about the 24-inch steel pipeline buried underground 100-yards from the front door of your business carrying volatile oil, or gas or chemicals to customers on the other side of town.
     No matter how big or small your workplace is . . . No matter how many or how few employees you have . . . not only must you assess the things that can go wrong in your office, business or not-for-profit, but you must be constantly evaluating all the things that can go wrong and out of your control.
     The United States Government Accountability Office released a report this week which concluded: “Without timely action to address safety risks posed by increased transport of oil and gas by pipeline and rail, additional accidents that could have been prevented or mitigated may endanger the public and call into question the readiness of transportation networks in the new oil and gas environment.” Not to mention the disruption or destruction of your own business just because of where it is located.
     More than 400,000 carloads of crude oil were transported over North American rail track in 2013, compared to only 9,500 tanker loads in 2008. There were a handful of headline grabbing train wrecks in recent months that should get your attention and motivate you to prepare your own crisis plan if it happens again near your workplace. Just think about the awful disaster near a small town in Quebec, where a fiery tank train crash destroyed much of the town and killed nearly 50 residents.
    Don’t put off another week. Survey the area around your business or organization’s facilities. Look at the surrounding road access and egress. Make a list of things that can go wrong and begin work on a plan to deal with: “if this happens, what can we do?”

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Are You Ready for Legionnaires' Disease?

Okay!  Here Smith goes again!  Probably writing about the next so-called Flu Pandemic!

NO!  I'm still worried about the NEXT world wide flu pandemic, but today I'm stirring up concern about a disease that's here and now and beginning to give plaintiff's lawyers hope for a very profitable next few years.

If you are in the healthcare industry -- hospitals, nursing homes, rehab facilities or even operate a spa or a fitness center -- you need to pay attention to the steady spread of Legionnaires' disease.

Also if you own or lease space in a shopping center with one or more air conditioner cooling towers on the roof, you should be paying attention and have them tested for contaminated cooling water.

Alabama alone has confirmed 41 cases of the deadly pneumonia type  disease from 2013, with 15 cases at a nursing home in Florence, AL, including one death and already this year another 18 confirmed cases and 2 deaths.

Alabama Department of Public Health Dr. Mary G. McIntyre says there were 3,000 cases reported to the U.S. Center for Disease Control in 2013, but she says a more realistic "estimate" of people hospitalized by the bacteria could be as high as 18,000.

Cases of Legionnaire's disease are most common in hospitals and nursing homes housing very ill and elderly patients. In November 2012 the Veterans Hospital in Pittsburgh reported six deaths and at least 22 infected veterans.

The Dartmouth, MA Police Station has been locked down for weeks after Legionella bacteria was detected in the building's hot-water heating system. At least one officer was infected before the
building was temporarily abandoned.

The first identified cases of Legionnaires' disease came during the 1976 American Legion convention in Philadelphia.  182 Legionnaires got sick and 29 died and today most people hear the term "Legionnaires' Disease" and think that was something that happened  38-years ago.

There are almost weekly reports of scattered cases across the U.S. and it's popping up in Europe, too. In 2012 four people died and 45 others required hospital care in Edinburg, Scotland.

So, now we get to the point -- why you should care, beyond for your own and your families' health.

In Edinburgh, Scotland the law firm of Irwin Mitchell represents 35 families who are seeking financial reimbursement and punitive damages. And, in Tampa, FL the Fernandez Law Firm is pursuing personal injury lawsuits on behalf of two elderly residents of the Meadows at Country Wood Retirement Community.

They were sickened by the bacteria that grew in warm, stagnant water in a decorative fountain near their retirement home. A third resident died and his family has its own wrongful-death lawsuit.

This is one of those things ICM calls a "smoldering crisis."  It is preventable.  You can anticipate it and head it off, all for a very nominal cost and with almost no disruption in your day-to-day operations.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Crisis Communication Certification Training Registration Time

The next Institute for Crisis Management's two-day and three-day Crisis Communication Certification Course is coming up July 22-23 & 24 and before it fills up, click here to register and guarantee your place in the class.

The two-day crisis Certification Course is a thorough and intense examination of all the kinds of things that can go wrong in any organization, whether a multi-national corporation, a mom and pop business, higher ed, healthcare, a retail chain or a community not-for-profit. The workshop begins with a look inside the sudden, smoldering, bizarre and perceptual crises that can strike anywhere at any time.

Then the focus turns to the kind of planning that is needed to prepare any organization to prevent or minimize the damage from any of those potential crisis threats.  That includes how to identify the most likely vulnerabilities and how to select and train the right people for your crisis team.

Real life crisis case studies from the experiences of ICM consultants help drive home the importance of planning, preparing and training.

The second day ends with a two-and-a-half hour table top exercise taken from the real world of ICM clients.

The third, optional day, is devoted to media/spokesperson training.  Whether you have experience as the chief spokesperson for your company/organization or not, the third day will help you polish your skills and perhaps more significantly will give you tools and techniques to use to prepare the occasional spokesperson on your team.

That third day includes three on-camera experiences beginning with a "base-line" interview to start the day, followed by a mock news conference at mid-day and then the day ends with a sit-down, knee-to-knee, no holds barred, one-on-one interview to test what you have learned.

If July doesn't fit your schedule, the next ICM Crisis Communication Certification Course still has openings for Sept. 9-10 & 11, 2014.