We Still Need To Practice
For some organizations, conducting regular emergency exercises comes with the territory. If you work in with Hazmat or in an industry where your main function is to protect people and property, like fire and law enforcement, you are probably well versed in the value of preparing for an emergency. For many organizations, however, the potential dangers are not as obvious and safety exercises are relegated to the mandatory annual fire drill. This approach may be setting your organization and your people up for real trouble.
When was the last time your local school, college, or retirement home actually exercised their emergency plan? If you find yourself in an area not accustomed to exercising, the answer is probably either never, or a long time.
There are multiple reasons people choose not to exercise, but more often than not, it has a lot to do with image. The fear is that if the community or media see you are preparing for something, the thinking is going to be that there is a risk of it occurring. We would much rather be like the ostrich with our head in the sand than actually preparing for possible inevitabilities.
Recently a Police review commission in Berkley California submitted a proposal to the local city council demanding that the city stop the use of the Urban Shield Program, a preparedness initiative developed for the region. They group went on to say “We welcome the commission’s motion to halt the city’s participation in this extremely dangerous and racist program…Berkeley will not support militarization. It’s time to pull out of Urban Shield.” The supposed militarization of law enforcement is nothing more than a response to the dangers that they face. As a sworn police officer, I want to make sure that I am ready for whatever I encounter. If I know a “bad guy” is going to show up with 1 gun, I will respond with 2.
Unfortunately, the lack of information on the value and effectiveness of emergency exercises to prepare otherwise unprepared groups for emergencies just is not accepted by those opposed to them. Whatever the reason, we should not stop preparing for emergencies. An out of practice or unprepared population is more likely to be victimized, and suffer after an event.