Hurricanes

September 22nd, 2017 Comments off

This hurricane season has been quite active and historical with two Category 5 hurricanes in the same season.  With over a decade passing without any activity of this degree, many organizations have allowed complacency to creep into their planning process.  Below are some reminders and suggestions for organizations that are ‘dusting off’ their old plans or those creating ones. The purpose of planning is to establish an efficient means of providing continuity of operations during a hurricane or a severe storm causing generalized flooding or structural damage as part of the overall Business Continuity Plan.

Objectives of Your Plan

  • To provide an effective plan for continuing operations during storm conditions, which will likely leave the business without normal utility service and means of obtaining outside assistance
  • To outline each department’s responsibilities for storm preparation and continuing services during and after a storm
  • To provide a logical and flexible chain of command to allow the maximum use of resources during a hurricane
  • To minimize injury or illness to people, damage or loss of property and records
  • To provide maximum safety and protection for employees and visitors present during a hurricane

General Hurricane Preparations

All business owners and managers should develop basic hurricane awareness. You are responsible for protecting your facilities and employees.

Employee Preparation

  • Determine which members of your staff you will need to carry out hurricane preparations and whom you can reasonably expect to be available
  • Develop a simple written plan which incorporates a set of Hurricane Task Assignments for your staff
  • Receive solicited input from all of the various work centers at your facility
  • Outline the specific tasks which must be performed to protect your facility during a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning, how they will be accomplished, and who will perform them
  • It is desirable to develop teams for various tasks – a team to board up, a team to secure exterior equipment, and so forth
  • Outline your hurricane response plan and task assignments at a training session

Facility Preparation

  • If your facility is in a storm surge inundation zone or appears to be unsafe for occupancy during high winds, you may have to evacuate it completely
  • Review your list of major equipment and furnishings to determine which items need to be protected or removed and record how you plan to do it
  • Protect your equipment and furnishings in-place or move them out of the area which is at risk
  • Identify outside equipment and furnishings which could be blown loose and may become deadly missiles in hurricane winds
  • Determine where they will be stored or how they will be secured in-place
  • Strongly anchor any portable storage buildings
  • Ensure rooftop equipment such as exhaust fans, wind turbines, and air conditioning units are securely fastened or strapped down to the roof deck
  • If the roof is a composition roof with a gravel covering, remove loose gravel to preclude damage to unprotected windows
  • Ensure that members of your staff know how to turn off the electrical power, water, gas, and other utility services within your building at the main switches
  • Obtain several battery-operated radios and spare batteries to ensure you can receive emergency information
  • It is desirable to have at least one radio on site which can receive National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio frequencies
  • Procure sufficient flashlights and other battery powered lights to allow essential work to be conducted in the event of power outage
  • Compile a disaster supply kit and have this ready for emergencies
  • If you do not have storm shutters, ensure you have the necessary tools to board up windows and brace doors
  • The first priority in protecting your facility will be to keep the wind out
  • Plywood (preferably 5/8 inch thick exterior type) to cover large windows and glass doors which can be blown in by hurricane force winds
  • Wind pressure and windblown debris can break windows and blow in doors
  • Have an ample supply of brooms, squeegees, mops, and absorbents to remove water
  • Ensure you have a small emergency generator, as the power may go out for an extended period before a hurricane comes ashore
  • An emergency generator can maintain lighting, recharge battery-powered equipment, and power pumps and tools which may be needed for expedient repairs after the hurricane passes
  • If possible, obtain plywood before hurricane season begins and precut it to size, mark each panel to identify where it goes, and store it until needed

During a Hurricane

  • Use interior rooms and corridors
  • In multi-story buildings, shelter people on the lower floors and avoid corner rooms
  • Avoid areas near exterior windows and glass doors
  • Periodically conduct an internal check of the buildings
  • Ensure that those being sheltered remain indoors during the hurricane

After a Hurricane

  • If you evacuated your facility, you might have difficulty returning quickly
  • Access to storm-damaged areas may be limited by local law enforcement personnel
  • Initially, entry to storm-damaged areas may be restricted to search and rescue personnel, law enforcement, firefighters, utility crews, and road clearing teams
  • Look for obvious structural damage to your building and its foundations
  • Check for downed or dangling electrical power lines and broken sewer or water pipes on your property

Conclusion

  • Contact your local emergency management office to learn about evacuation routes and emergency plans
  • Get additional information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.fema.gov), Ready Campaign (www.Ready.gov), Citizen’s Corps (citizencorps.gov), American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) and NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov)
  • Inquire about emergency plans and procedures at your child’s school and your workplace
  • Make a disaster plan that includes employees, guests, contacts and locations to reunite if you become separated
  • Assemble a disaster supply kit
  • Gather important documents

 

Keeping Our Staff Safe Through Irma

September 8th, 2017 Comments off

Although our staff already know that we assist clients during natural disasters, we shared this infographic with them to demonstrate how we are managing our employee’s safety at our Plantation, Florida operations center during Hurricane Irma. Given the interest, we also wanted to share it publicly to give everyone some insight into how governments and businesses utilize our services to ensure the safety of their workforce and assets.

Our crisis response center (CRC) is currently tracking the whereabouts of employees, setting up dedicated assistance hotline numbers for staff, deploying crisis assistance teams (CAT) and medical personnel, equipment and vehicles to affected areas and assembling base camps.

Keep safe.

Hurricane Harvey: 7 Ways We Can Immediately Help

August 29th, 2017 Comments off

  1. We provide: Hurricane Assistance Hotline for Employees
    We can activate dedicated Assistance Hotlines to provide a vital communications link between employers and employees impacted by a natural disaster.  The Hotline is deployed as the primary means of communicating assistance needs of employees impacted by the natural disaster.  The Hotline is staffed by Operational Support Staff (OSS) located within FocusPoint’s Crisis Response Center(CRC).  OSS personnel triage and document all incoming assistance requests and rely the requests to employers via a proprietary communications platform and mapping tool.
  2. We provide: CAT Team (Crisis Assistance Team)
    The CAT Team consists of Emergency Medical Technicians, Swift Water/High Water Rescue personnel, current and retired law enforcement providing search and rescue (SAR) and disaster response support.  The CAT Team is forward deployed in the theater of operations to establish a Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and coordinate with FEMA, local, state and federal law enforcement personnel actively engaged in disaster response efforts.  The CAT Team conducts SAR and provides interactive facilitation between employers and Emergency Response Teams to locate and assist employees in need.
  3. We provide: Consulting & Response Planning
    A comprehensive disaster management plan mitigates a company’s losses and potential downtime. Developing a detailed emergency management plan in conjunction with disaster specialists prepares a company to meet immediate personnel and operational needs. It also helps solidify partnerships among local law enforcement and emergency personnel that can be relied on when disaster strikes.
  4. We provide: Asset Protection & Security Personnel
    Even when a disaster occurs; an organization still has a legal and moral responsibility to provide a safe environment during that chaotic time. Protection of assets, property, employees, and information is vital. Contract security personnel will provide additional protection. Highly qualified security and response personnel are trained to make rational decisions under adverse conditions. They will control access to the affected sites, monitor suppliers moving in and out of the area, ensure only appropriate employees are frequenting critical areas, as well as record and audit assets.
  5. We provide: Logistical Support & Base Camps
    Following a disaster, many employees must continue to work in compromised facilities. Corporations may also want to consider the safe housing of employees families so they can engage in worry free “resumption of operations’ for their employer. The ability to supply support services by providing base camps and a large fleet of specialty trailers is essential. Specifically built and equipped trailers that provide logistical support during emergencies can be deployed rapidly, are completely self-contained, and can be set up anywhere. Kitchen trailers which produce culinary creations that are always fresh, appetizing and highly nutritious. Dormitory trailers, shower trailers, restroom facilities, and laundry trailers ensure employees, as well as relief workers, can stay clean and comfortable. If the company cannot continue to operate on-site, a centralized base camp with mobile power generation can be used as a temporary command post.
  6. We provide: Remediation Personnel & Skilled Trade Workers
    A temporary workforce can be assembled quickly to help the company affected by a natural disaster weather the storm. Bringing in ancillary staff with specific skills can minimize down time and relieve highly stressed employees. Workers are accustomed to working in remote locations or less-than-ideal conditions. Their goal will be clear – restore the area to pre-event conditions while eliminating unnecessary costs.
  7. We provide: Emergency Response Vehicles, Personnel & Equipment
    Liaison teams will help to ensure that local emergency personnel respond quickly to any medical situations. Trained medical personnel can even set up mobile triage units to ensure that the neediest cases receive fast attention. Should community assets become overtaxed, a pool of emergency vehicles and equipment can be stationed on a client’s site to provide necessary medical care and transport.

Other ways we can help:

  • Incident Management
  • Asset Protection
    • Facility Security
    • Personnel Security
    • Executive Protection
    • Basecamp Security
  • Aviation and Waterborne Assets
  • Evacuation Support

For assistance please contact:
Joe Schollaert
President, AFIMAC Global
15830 Foltz Pkway, Strongsville, OH 44149
jschollaert@afimacglobal.com
1.800.554.4622
www.afimacglobal.com

 

 

If Silence is Golden, Then Listening is Platinum

July 24th, 2017 Comments off

listening

Within the past month, I have come across two fascinating articles that discussed the art of listening. One article focused on relationship building and the other, the importance of listening in the sales industry. My rationale for comparing platinum and listening is twofold.  First, platinum is both a rare and precious item.  Secondarily, gold is much more abundant than platinum – so much so that all the platinum ever mined could fit into one room inside an average sized home.

I have made a concerted effort to focus on my ability to listen to a person versus hearing a person.  Often I am ridiculed about the pause that occurs when someone speaking to me finishes talking.  I am hardly offended by these comments, as I am simply trying to make a conscious effort to practice good listening skills and show the person that I am listening to them.  This is something I try to practice, as I have not perfected this skill and it can always be improved upon.  After all, it is difficult to be distracted by all of the many handheld devices available to us.

Whether it is building a personal or a professional relationship, it is important to listen to a person and truly understand their position or the motivation/reasoning for what they are saying.  Professionally speaking, specifically in the sales industry, listening will enable you to understand the ‘pain’ that a person is experiencing and allow you to develop an appropriate solution.  It has been well documented that people buy based on emotion rather than logical thought processes.  Therefore it is extremely important to truly listen to what is being said and build the rapport necessary to get to that level of emotional purchase.

As stated in one of the articles, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”. I highly recommend that you take a minute to read, The Power of Listening to Make Sales, by Kirk Heiner.

 

 

Building A Comprehensive Contingency Plan

May 25th, 2017 Comments off

bplan

Terrorism, natural disasters, corporate scandals, labor strikes and industrial accidents have plagued corporations for decades, and more and more businesses realize the critical role that a well-developed contingency plan can play. They also realize that now – more than ever – it is not only what happens that adversely affects the business operations, it is how you deal with it and the message sent to the public. Companies cannot afford to be caught unprepared for a business setback. With the correct plan, you can mitigate your risk and preserve your brand. A good contingency plan will include allowances for the necessary specialized security, human impact resources, supplemental personnel needs, a robust communication/public relations plan and solid operational strategies.

You need to create a contingency planning committee that represents all stakeholders to oversee this effort. Ideally, have an outside expert review the plan to ensure proper goals have been established, workable timelines have been set up, and the logistics are accurate. The result should be a comprehensive plan, accessible to all team members and ready to be implemented at a moment’s notice.

Regardless of the reason that your business is in potential turmoil, you are going to need individuals with the required skill sets to address all facets within the plan. The personnel you bring on board should have experience that allows them to make sound decisions in less than ideal conditions. You must thoroughly review your company’s facilities, operations, and existing business practices to identify your strengths and vulnerabilities. For business continuity, you may also need to provide for people’s personal needs. The plan should also include provisions for family members of your company’s management team and employees. Depending on the nature of the business interruption, your company may need to not only address these issues but also interface with emergency response agencies. In this case, you should meet regularly with these agencies and have ongoing open communications.

Special amenities may be required that include things such as mobile workstations, appetizing meals, clean and comfortable sleeping and shower arrangements and laundry facilities. In a natural disaster, you may have to hire temporary workers from outside of the affected area, as it could be a matter of economic survival. Plan ahead and identify the working resources you will require, and then internally fill those positions with existing resources or work with a company that can provide personnel with those skills. Should you work with an outside resource, that company should supervise those employees on your behalf so your company’s managers can concentrate on returning to business as usual.In uncertain times, it is extremely important to communicate. You need to let your employees, clientele, business investors, and internal management team know how you are handling things and how you will continue to address any difficulties or problems encountered. Nobody likes being left in the dark; it can make them nervous and cause them to question your intentions and authority. Be up front, available and honest. All sorts of people will want to know what’s going on – so let them know.  Open and frequent communication is vital!

 

 

 

A Disney ‘Release’ They Don’t Want To Promote

March 20th, 2017 Comments off

Even one of largest global organizations in the world is not immune to the US Department of Labor laws.  Disney has been ordered to pay millions of dollars in back wages to employees at two theme parks in Florida.  It was determined that Disney violated labor laws by deducting uniform/costume costs from their employees causing wages to be below the standard minimum pay.

This illustrates the importance of having a firm understanding of US labor law, ongoing educational programs for your Human Resources/Labor Relations departments and a strong employment labor attorney.  The nuances of US labor legislation and policy implementation happens frequently, and organizations big and small must not take their eye off the ball on these matters.  I am sure that Disney, as well as other organizations, never intended to impact those valued employees negatively; however, the responsibility lies with the company to adhere to labor laws.  This unintentional situation has resulted in both negative press and strained relations with the ‘happiest place on earth’ valued team members.

The bottom line is – no matter how good of an organization you are or intend to be, one misstep can erase years of positive employee relations.

For more on this topic, click the following link.  http://www.newsy.com/stories/disney-to-pay-back-millions-after-employee-labor-dispute/

‘The Lochte’

September 23rd, 2016 Comments off

With the popularity of the TV show Dancing with the Stars, specifically, the buzz surrounding Ryan Lochte as a contestant, it made me think about the entire ‘Olympic situation’ again.

As I was watching the Olympics, I noticed how often specific actions are named after the competitors.  For example, ‘The Biles’, ‘The Amanar’ and ‘The Onodi’ in gymnastics, ‘The Cryuff’ in soccer and ‘The Fosbury Flop’ in track and field.  These events or sports, along with diving, lend themselves to the potential of this phenomenon.  Swimming, on the other hand, was not one of those sports, until recently. We all witnessed the birth of ‘The Lochte’.  Ironically, this action is not performed in the pool where this athlete normally competes; nor is it limited to highly trained athletes.  This ‘move’ can be performed by anyone and at any time.

In the business world, ‘The Lochte’ is often demonstrated and many times perfected, as recently shown by the EpiPen maker Mylan and the banking giant Wells Fargo.  The essence of ‘The Lochte’ is rather basic and easy to execute.  Just as any athlete trains diligently to reach his or her goals, businesses also strive for success.  This commitment can culminate great accomplishments.  However, years of diligently improving and achieving success can come crashing down in a heartbeat with one perfectly executed ‘Lochte’.  Employees can be negatively impacted, customers can be lost, and revenue generation can take a tremendous turn for the worse. Yes, these events are devastating; but the true character of a company and the leadership is how they recover from the ill-timed ‘Lochte’.

It will be interesting to watch how Ryan Lochte, and those companies who perfectly executed ‘The Lochte’ recover (or do not recover) from the negativity of their actions.  If we as individuals are wise, we will all pay attention and learn the best way to respond and properly handle should we perform ‘The Lochte’.

Penny Wise, But Pound Foolish

June 23rd, 2016 Comments off

In recent months, I have run across the following scenario more than I ever have in my combined 20 years in the industry.  Companies looking for a ‘contract security‘ company to provide labor dispute security services.  From a fiduciary responsibility standpoint this may seem to make sense; however the intangible consequences can be catastrophic.  The ability to avoid a ULP (unfair labor practice) charge is paramount in these situations.  Using a contract security firm during a labor dispute may appear to be economical; however the lack of expertise could be damaging.

A contract security company offers guards that lack the following essential training:

  • Legal right & responsibilities
  • Labor relations
  • Tactical communications
  • Professionalism & ethics
  • Public relations (dealing with the media)
  • Relations with law enforcement agencies
  • Code of conduct
  • Passive & aggressive communications
  • Note taking & report writing
  • Evidence collection & documentation (i.e. verbal, material, documentary evidence)
  • Response options to violent situations and persons
  • Components of communications
  • Roles of persuasion

A contract security company will not understand the following:

  • Picket line protocols
  • Affidavits & testimony in court
  • Union’s legal strike rights
  • Management’s legal strike rights
  • Picket line crossing procedures
  • Continuity of evidence procedures
  • Preparing sworn affidavits for legal counsel
  • Video evidence procedures
  • Highway traffic act procedures
  • Transportation
  • Educational seminars for client management & third party contractors who will be crossing picket lines

During a labor dispute, third parties and those organizations sympathetic to the union, may support the union that is on strike.  A contract security company will not have the required understanding of that third party’s habits and activities. Personal relationships between the security officers and particular employees may exist, thus creating an uncomfortable dynamic once the strike is over. In fact, the contract security guards may even be unionized themselves.

The bottom line is that a contract security company is not as qualified as a specialized security organization in providing strike security services.   A local resource may be more economical on the surface; however, one wrong action can have a detrimental long-term financial impact.

 

My Parents…One is a Sneaker and the Other a Dress Shoe

May 26th, 2016 Comments off

Recently, I was on a business trip and like many traveling on an airplane, I began thumbing through the airline magazine.  As I mindlessly scanned the pages, an advertisement for shoes caught my eye.  The ad was promoting how comfortable the company’s dress shoes are.  The tagline at the top of the ad read, “My Mother was a Sneaker, My Father Was a Dress Shoe.”  This got my mind going thinking about how this simple phrase can be parenthetically tied to actual life.

Think about how many times throughout your personal and business life where you must present yourself in one manner; yet be agile enough to change direction or strategy.  Your intent is to be perceived as ‘dressy’ and put together, but the reality calls for you to be ‘comfortable’ and ‘flexible’ to be effective. You must demonstrate the outer persona of a dress shoe but have the internal inherent qualities of a multi-functional sneaker.  This is not an easy skill set to master and can take years to perfect, however, once perfected it can be a valuable and enviable quality.  There is a host of parallels in life that are attributable to having this talent, such as parenting, business, sports and having long-term personal relationships. This quality applies to professions in the military, law enforcement, security, and in the boardroom.

I am just thankful that the following adage does not apply, My Parents…One is a Sandal and One is a Slipper!

Eight Months of Vulnerability?

April 25th, 2016 Comments off

Although this political season surrounding the forthcoming presidential election has been entertaining, we must remember that it will be a vulnerable time for the United States.  This vulnerability not only exists within the country but more importantly on the world stage.

This period between nominating a political party candidate for the presidency and the transition of power following the election will be critical, both domestically and regarding US foreign policy.  Many world leaders and heads of radical groups can use this time to position themselves during a perceived time of confusion and instability within the United States.  This cannot only impact the United States but our allies as well. Especially when you have two divisive frontrunners from each party.

Many foreign governments can use this period to enhance their military position or improve their economy through aggressive measures while the attention is focused on the United States’ current events.  With a lame duck president in power, leaders can find themselves in a very convenient situation.  This is not a new concept and has been played out in previous elections specifically during the Jimmy Carter administration and the Iranian relationship.

As far as the current US presidential primary, I relate this situation to the Reagan/Carter presidential race; where one leading candidate is a known politician, and the other is someone from outside the beltway.

One thing is for sure; it will be an interesting next eight months.

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