Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Boston Marathon: Preparing for Crisis

Just completed my first of two CPR lessons today. I volunteered at work to become the General Accounting department's emergency rescue person. Since taking on the role three years ago, I was needed only once to assist in a trip and fall incident. When asked to renew training this time around, I considered dropping out.

It's the day after the Boston Marathon bombings. No suspects have been captured and motives have been only analyzed, although never pinpointed. As those runners unfortunately learned, tragedy can hit immediately, creeping upon us without much warning. There wasn't much the runners could do to prepare for the explosions - they had a finish line to cross. Even had they prepared, there was no possible way to anticipate such a tragedy on what was a momentous day for many.

But what about those who worked in the vicinity? After 9/11, many workers have come to realize just how unpredictable their work day can be. Of course, we're much safer now than we were then, but the what-if's still plaques many of us at work. If the elevator stops unexpectedly or suddenly shifts, or an alarm goes off without warning, you can't help but notice the confusion and fear that streaks across other's faces.

The CPR instructor dispensed some helpful advice today. He makes it a point to scan any building he's in and find all emergency exits and apparatuses within that area. He wasn't sure whether this was a process he learned as an emergency responder instructor or whether it was a habit he picked up somewhere along his professional life.

There are other steps we can take to protect ourselves before a crisis hits:

- Participate in emergency drills at work. It takes time away from your workload, but it can someday save your life.

-Familiarize yourself with your company's disaster recovery websites. Even if you're not part of the recovery process, there are links to invaluable sources you can visit to help you prepare for any emergency.

-Visit any internal sites set aside for emergency evacuations. Know how to properly exit your building, especially if you're working on top floors. Memorize the meeting points designated for your departments and make your way to those areas. You must be accounted for to avoid placing a rescuer's or coworker's life in danger. While it's strongly discouraged, there are still people willing to rush into buildings to help someone in need.

We can't possibly predict every outcome, but knowing how to react in a crisis is a matter of life and death. Just ask anyone who survived 9/11 and the Boston Marathon.

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