VIDEO: TAL Global Perspective – Why Emergency Preparedness is Essential for Businesses

The Transcript is Below. This is Auto Generated

Mike Keenan: Hello, I’m Mike Keenan and welcome to the tall global perspective.

Lucien Canton: Hi Mike, it’s good to be here.

Mike Keenan: As a director of Emergency Services for the City of San Francisco from 1996 to 2004, he was responsible for coordinating the city’s emergency management program and served as a policy advisor on emergency management and homeland security issues to Mayor Willie Brown Jr. He was instrumental in the development of the city’s terrorism response, capability and coordinated, major response plans for a variety of emergency situations. Prior to the city of San Francisco, Lucien served as an emergency management specialist with FEMA. He assisted in the development of federal disaster response capability to include tactical and strategic planning interagency coordination, and field operations. In addition, Lucien served as a senior staff officer on 17. Major disasters in Region 9 including by the way Lucien what is Region 9

Lucien Canton: That’s one of the federal regents in the United States that includes the states of California and Nevada, Arizona Hawaii and the Pacific Trust territories which makes it really interesting.

Mike Keenan: It sounds like it. Thank you for clarifying that but those major disasters included, the Loma Prieta Hurricane and Nikki the Northridge earthquake, the Southern California wildfires, and the California winter storms of 1995. His experience includes extensive deployments on typhoon relief and operations in the Pacific. Trust territories. And the Caribbean. He also served as the chief of Hazard mitigation branch with responsibility for administering post-disaster mitigation programs. He served on national task forces and working groups, developing the federal response plan and is the co-author of key components of the federal disaster intelligence system.

Mike Keenan: Lucien served with the US Army in Germany and held a variety of positions in the US and abroad in the private security industry. His credentials includes certification by the International Association of Emergency Managers as a emergency manager and recognition by the Di Recovery Institute as a certified business continuity, Lucien is the author of a book Emergency Management Concepts and Strategies for Effective Programs and of numerous articles on emergency management and security issues. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of San Francisco. And a Master of Business Administration degree in international management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. So that’s quite a background. So let’s jump into this. My first question for you is what is emergency preparedness and why is it relevant to businesses?

Lucien Canton: It’s an interesting question Mike, because it’s an extraordinarily complex subject in simple terms, emergency preparedness helps an organization prepare for the unexpected. That sounds very simple, but it becomes complex because there are so many different people, telling you what you should be doing. OSHA has certain requirements for emergency planning. You have terms, business continuity, business resumption, business preparedness crisis management. So, it all gets confusing, but I think the thing you must come back to. Is that idea that it’s about helping the organization prepare for the unexpected? And why it becomes relevant is because the unexpected can create a situation where you aren’t in business afterwards, one of the studies that FEMA did quite a few years ago. Said, Leave us after the northward earthquake.

Lucien Canton: 40% of the small businesses that had been impacted by the disaster, didn’t reopen? And of those that did reopen something like, 29% were still in business two years later. So, your chances to surviving after a disaster and having your business go. It’s increased exponentially. If you do some sort of preparedness, We also have situations where we did a study after Sandy, where we found that something like 42% of the people before didn’t have a plan and of those that did have a plan only about 13% and shared it with their employees. So again, that has an impact. So if you’re preparing and you haven’t done all the things you need to do to make that a part of your business, your chances are surviving after a disaster, are lessons,

Mike Keenan: That all makes perfect sense and certainly illustrates the need for a good plan. So, when you were working with companies, what kind of common mistakes do you find?

Lucien Canton: If we could be here all night, talking about that. But there are four that I find are constantly popping up. The first is misunderstanding, the nature of disaster, a lot of companies when I talk to them about emergency preparedness, in the big terms, they think, earthquakes, floods fires, and these are certainly things you want to be concerned about, but emergency preparedness extends to all the other things that can happen to your business. One of the big ones, reputational management, a reputational risk, you just something going wrong, an injury to employees or a problem with your product can have a big effect. So misunderstanding, the nature disaster and assuming that your emergency planning is strictly for big events, is one of the biggest mistakes I find and that tends to, as people start thinking about the big mistakes in the back of their mind is, that’s not gonna happen here. And so they automatically turn off and lose the benefit. The rest of the planning,

Lucien Canton: The second thing is that I find a lot of companies because they treat emergency prepares to something separate from their business. Don’t align that with their business objectives. And really the whole idea of emergency preparedness is to keep you in business. So you really need to think in terms of business objectives, as well as what’s going on in terms of as the third thing that we have is that having a plan doesn’t equal preparedness. And I find this a lot where a company will tell me. we’re okay. We have a plan and I sure asking questions like, have you shared it with your employees? Does your plan address? This does your plan Consider that? I mean, you need to find that. They haven’t done that detailed development of the plan. And what they’ve done is accept a plan for somebody else or how to consultant, write it and just took the plan, as now we’re prepared, because we have this plan. So that’s one of the big ones. and finally,

Lucien Canton: there’s a tendency people have once they get into emergency planning, they say let’s plan for everything and you really can’t, and you’ll drive yourself mad trying to do the what-if by saying I must climb this, I must climb for that instead. What we teach is the ability to have a plan that is adaptable to anything, particularly things that you weren’t expecting to have happened. So I think that’s one of the key things that I try to get across to my clients. Is this idea of you can be prepared without necessarily having to address every single possibility that could occur to you?

Mike Keenan: That’s very well and it’s interesting my career as is in retail loss, prevention, and your comment about viewing emergency management separately from the business is a critical point because I joined the industry. When security was very separate from the way, the business was run and evolved into where it was a critical component of it. So it’s essential to include those things in your business planning. excellent points. And then my final question is, if I don’t have a program, or I’m a new organization, just getting started, where do I begin?

Lucien Canton: I hit the thing to remember is that this is emergency, preparedness is not something you do once, and then you put it on the shelf in your finished. It’s something that must be incorporated into your business. And so the way I usually try to start with folks is to ask the question. How do you deal with a crisis sunny day to day basis? I mean any business we have emergencies that we weren’t expecting A shortfall in supplies coming in or maybe a problem in our supply chain or something and a key employee out, sick or has quit. So there are ways that you deal with that. And so what I ask is, who’s your brain trust, who do you involve in decision-making when you have that sort of crisis and start with that’s the group that you’re going to get together to start thinking about planning and asking the questions about what could go wrong and then build out from there? So, for example, you might have a group of managers to start up, but you find you need input from one of the engineers or you need input from the maintenance people.

Lucien Canton: Or input from even one of your vendors and you start building having that brain. Trust is the first part.

Lucien Canton: The second is understanding at risk. What is it that you’re really trying to protect? And I always like to distinguish between physical property and intellectual property. A lot of people don’t understand that it’s not just about your physical facility, but it’s also about what makes your company, what is it that’s important to you? I remember working with a bakery once and their attitude was gun insurance. We can replace all this equipment. There’s something we have, and I finally, what about your recipes? I think. Yes, that’s, special. and we ended up finding that we needed to take copies of those and have them put someplace safe because they were the only things they had. And also, they had the sourdough starter that had been there since the gold rush and so forth. So again, it’s society of understanding what it is that you haven’t at risk?

Lucien Canton: And what are your critical processes? What’s going to go wrong, that’s going to cause you heartburn, and how do you solve it? I was working with a group of textiles folks. And what we found was they hada fairly good arrangement with other textile companies where they could use their unused capacity on the night shift, which they ran into problems with their own plant. So things like that processes that you can continue and how would you continue them? And finally, a lot of times we don’t think about our supply chain and that’s the biggest headache. You had the Sony Ericsson thing many years ago. It’s still a classic that people study. A fire and a clean room. Thousands of miles away from the company. It’s not such a big deal except that it costs them. Something like two hundred million dollars in the first quarter because they hadn’t planned for it.

Lucien Canton: So again, this idea of what is it? That’s going to give you problems. You need your staff to help you identify that. And then the people are going to help you get solutions to it. So that’s where I would start building that brain trust and start looking what our critical processes.

Mike Keenan: that’s great advice, Lucien, and the examples you gave clearly illustrate the need for effectiveness. Planning and I think most of us know other examples as well said and really appreciate your input. So if you’d like to learn more about our experts or our services, please visit tall And as always remember, Be alert and stay safe. Thank you.

We welcome your thoughts.  Please feel free to Talk to Us.  TAL Global is an elite security, consulting, and risk management firm that protects human and physical assets around the globe.

Stay safe,

Oscar Villanueva


TAL Global
O: 1-408-993-1300