Are you prepared for the next disaster? This question has been at the forefront of priorities for building owners and managers for the past 11 months, since our City was hit by the worst flood in over half a century. While some Calgarians may still be recovering from the aftermath, preparing for the next disaster is just as important.
The Navigating the New Normal panel presentation on May 20 came at the perfect time, on the heels of the Public Safety Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Week on May 4 – 10, and as we embark on another potentially significant flood season.
Keynote Speaker, Colleen Hnylycia, Senior Manager of Capital Planning and Projects for the Calgary Zoo, along with a panel of four industry professionals, shared her challenges, victories and lessons learned from the experience of last year’s flood event. The panel comprised of Jessica Pane, Manager, Health & Safety, Penn West; Lauren Harris, Acting Manager, Emergency Management & Agency Planning, Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA); Chuck Roller, Manager, Operations – Centennial Place, Oxford Properties Group; and Frank Giugovaz, General Manager Operations, Morguard Investments Limited.
And what were some of those challenges?
- Understanding extent of flooding and depth of water
- limited notice of the impending flood
- having an extensive Emergency Response Plan is good in theory, but may not apply to local challenges
- communication to stakeholders and tenants
- the simple things that you wouldn’t think of and can only be addressed after an experience
- business continuity plan and process.
A common thread amongst the speakers was, no matter how prepared you may be, you cannot be ready for every possible scenario; having an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) that is flexible and adaptable is key.
When preparing an ERP, the panelists noted the most important components:
- the chain of command and the roles of each
- evacuation plan
- equipment required
- business continuity process and communication.
Strong and continuous communication between Building Managers, Tenants and Stakeholders is vital but what happens when the vehicle of communication is impacted by the disaster? Your plan should outline such obstacles. One should also be personally prepared. The City of Calgary suggests having a 72 Hour Kit available at home, the office and your car. See the full list of suggested items to include in your individual plan.
A plan is only good if it is executed; the Panel suggested conducting practices and drills and providing proper training. BOMA Calgary has released the Is Your Building Ready? A Flood Preparedness Guide for Building Owners & Managers, which provides commercial real estate professionals with industry best practices to prepare for a flood. The guidebook also includes templates for emergency preparedness flood planning.
During a crisis, staying organized and focused is challenging amidst the chaos, but if you have the Right People, the Right Information and the Right Plan, you would only need to follow it, be aware of your surroundings, document event updates and then communicate it and above all else – stay out of harm’s way.
So – are you prepared for the next disaster?
– As reported by the BOMA Communications Committee
The Navigating the New Normal presentation was hosted in partnership with the following Calgary-based organizations: BOMA, CREW, Corenet and IFMA