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Catastrophic Coffee Talk – Take time to evolve your disaster plan!

By: Eric Thompson – Executive Director, Code 3 Associates

With the exciting new partnership between BPF and Code 3, and the fact disaster season is well underway this year; it’s only fitting that taking a closer look at your agency disaster plan become a priority. Most agencies have a template and general idea of what should be done in the event of a certain type of a disaster strike. However, how many agencies review and exercise their disaster plans on a regular basis? Are the blanks filled in? Have people and roles changed? Have partners changed? And most importantly…are you working to evolve your disaster plan to network non-traditional resources in your community given a completely unexpected event?

If your answers to any of the questions above leave you with unknowns or gaps in your plan, then I welcome you to the “Catastrophic Coffee Talk Hour with Eric”! During our relaxing time together sipping our coffee in the early morning light, we will contemplate improvised nuclear devices going off causing people and animals to be covered in non-lethal radiation. And don’t forget the ever-popular freak weather change that caused power outages for millions of people for weeks. Last but not least we ponder how your agency fits into the Emergency Management structure in your region. Are you already in their plan? If not do you need to be? (The answer is Yes to that one) And how do you utilize the new BPF Shelter Alliance to start to manage resources to really start to make a new difference for the animals you provide for in your community.

As you can expect the conversation about catastrophic planning will be more stimulating than the coffee. The challenge isn’t necessarily to find the answer right away; but more to encourage agencies to think outside the box and push themselves to a point where gaps exist. When gaps exist, that’s the point we start to solve real problems. So how do you decontaminate pets that may be evacuated from a city because of a dirty bomb? Can my agency shelter and transport volunteers and staff be credentialed to do Animal Search and Rescue (ASAR) work? How do I start the conversation with my local Emergency Manager and non-traditional resources like faith-based groups to create a more comprehensive mass care plan? And the questions go on and on and on as the caffeine has kicked in on top of some exciting new ideas on how to answer those questions.

To help your agency start exploring answers to any disaster planning questions, you can start by talking with BPF and Code 3 about known needs and challenges. We can help prioritize training and resource partners to start to mitigate problems; and we can share experiences of things that have worked well in the past along with things that looked good on paper, but didn’t translate well to real-life. You can also go to www.code3associates.org and www.asartraining.com to explore everything from awareness level disaster training all the way up ASAR technician training to work in floods and high-risk disaster zones. And while you are starting to evolve your disaster planning perspective as an agency, it may be time to talk about how to evolve your response capabilities to help other people that may need your resources. However, my coffee is gone so response will need to wait until “Happy Hour Holocausts with Eric”!

Until next time! Stay safe out there!