Putting Out Fires

Putting Out Fires

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is known for his statement, “The only constant is change.”  Personally, I embrace change.  After all, if things did not change we would get bored with the mundane.  Along those lines, I recently decided it was time for a change in my career and joined BC in the Cloud this year.   After spending nearly 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry I prepared myself for a tidal wave of change and a steep learning curve.  Now with a few months in the field, I am pleasantly surprised to find I was more prepared than I thought, thanks to the years I spent as a volunteer firefighter.

How could firefighting prepare you for a job in a company that provides a planning platform for business continuity and disaster recovery?  You may be surprised by the similarities.

Firefighting is all about planning and preparing for an emergency.  As a firefighter you never know when the alarm will sound or what that next call might bring.  This is no different than what business continuity practitioners do for the businesses they support.   In business continuity plans are created and those plans are tested through a variety of exercises.  When an incident occurs, the plans become the backbone of how a business responds, hopefully with as little disruption and impact as possible.

In the fire service, officers of the fire company are responsible for putting together plans for responding to a variety of incidents ranging from minor events like carbon dioxide detectors being triggered to major incidents like vehicle accidents, house fires, and explosions.   Much like the exercising activities you see in business continuity, fire officers conduct frequent training sessions with firefighters to ensure that in the event of an incident the firefighters know exactly what actions to take.  Firefighters spend countless hours being trained, running through various scenarios as they practice the incident plans.  After all there is no time to discuss how to respond in an emergency, lives and property are often at stake.  Firefighters, much like in business continuity practitioners, have the goal is to eliminate and reduce damage that is incurred during such an event.

As with any new job, the learning curve still exists.  Thanks to my experience firefighting, the steepness of that curve is not as drastic as I anticipated.

Martha Pimentel Photography

Prepared for Sunshine, Not for Earthquakes

A few years back I uprooted my life and moved from Pennsylvania to California. While the beautiful weather lured me in, I realized, the one downside, the chance of me experiencing an earthquake was more probable living in my new state. My first week of living in California a colleague asked me if I had an earthquake kit prepared, you know in case of the “big one”. I replied no and asked him what an earthquake kit entailed. His response, with a straight face, “A helmet that you wear every day, because you never know when it will hit. You have to be prepared and ready.” “Nice try” I said to him. I didn’t fall for his joke, but it did get me thinking, how do you prepare yourself for the “big one”?

Working in the disaster recovery industry, we focus on how our companies react and plan for a major disaster, but do you have an emergency plan for yourself and your loved ones? If not, here are a few things you should consider.

  • Prepare an Emergency Kit – Ensure you are equipped with proper supplies in your home maybe even have an emergency bag prepared. Things to consider in your emergency kit: water (at least 3 gallons – enough for 3 days), non-perishable food (enough for 3 days), flashlight, first aid kit, blanket, matches, personal hygiene supplies, medications, extra cash, and more. Check out Red Cross for a complete list of emergency items.
  • We Live in a Technology Driven World – If a disaster hits, we may lose electricity, gas, water, sewer, and/or telephone service. We rely on technology, particularly cell phones, for everything. How many of us have our family members’ cell phone numbers memorized? Most of us are lucky if we know our own numbers. It’s important to have a print out of your top 10 contacts’ phone numbers, be sure to include in- and out-of-state contacts. To go along with that, a printed local and state map is another important thing to have. Keep these print outs together in a few places, such as your car, office and home. Another thing we take for granted is electricity, if you don’t have a back-up generator at your house it’s smart to have flashlights, candles, a battery-operated radio, and a backup cell phone charger (fully charged).
  • Members of your Household – A disaster can occur at any given moment. You may not be in the comfort of your home with your family when the next tornado strikes. How do you get in contact with your family? Do you know the disaster plan at your children’s school? Do you know what your spouse’s work disaster plan is? Make sure you are all on the same page before a disaster hits, communication is key at the time of an incident. ReadySanDiego and the DOMO Group provides some great family planning resources as well.

While we play major roles in disaster recovery, if one should happen in our area, we must consider our family as family always comes first, and having a personal disaster recovery plan in place is crucial for this reason. Wearing a helmet everyday may be a little extreme for your earthquake preparedness plan, but it is important to have some type of plan in place and some supplies stocked. Disaster planning should be a must in everyone’s household!


(photo credit: Martha Pimentel Photography)