umbrella_riskJust yesterday, a shooter in a Portland, OR shopping mall opened fire with a gun and randomly killed two people and injured another. This type of shooting spree has become all too familiar in this country and around the world. The devastation, carnage, and terror are unimaginable.

As a case study for business, it brings up the need to know how to respond for your employees and your customers. This is a crisis that gets overlooked often when strategizing about insurance or risk management. Why? Because it is virtually unthinkable for most people. You would never think it would happen to you. I’m certain that this shopping mall and the businesses in it never expected it to happen. This is a small suburb of Portland…not even in the city. How do they deal with it?

Here are lessons to take away for you as a business owner. These lessons are more global than just a crazed shooter. These can apply to anything that is immediately dangerous be it a chemical spill, a workplace violence incident, a fire, or any other type of crisis…

1. Know what to do in real-time to keep your customers and employees safe. This should be known in advance, be communicated to all employees, and be practiced. You can’t expect people to know what to do if you’ve never told them or had them practice. This first “lesson” is the most important and the most missed.

2. Have an escape route. Know ways to escape and where to meet up.

3. Use technology to your advantage. Text messages, email, and instant messaging may save someone’s life or keep them away from danger.

4. Make sure all your employees are trained in CPR/First Aid. You read that correctly…ALL. Have an automatic defibrillator on site just in case.

5. Have a plan to make sure everyone is accounted for after the crisis is over.

6. Have a plan to inform families of how their loved ones are. This isn’t easy. Hopefully, the calls are that everyone is safe. Sometimes they are not. Who is making that call?

7. Have someone available to deal with the media. They should be well spoken, empathetic, and practiced in the art of dealing with difficult messages. This is another area most small businesses fall woefully short. The damage from a bad interview or being misquoted can have devastating effects on your reputation.

8. Train your employees on what not to say in the event of a crisis. There should only be one voice and that is the person I listed above. This makes it easier to avoid misinformation. Be careful with social media. Warn your employees not to get involved with the nose and chatter because it could come back to haunt you.

Bottom line – Nobody wants a crisis like what happened at the Clackamas Mall last night. As I said before, it’s virtually unthinkable. Yet here we are, whether in Portland or Aurora, CO. These incidents are horrible and they devastate lives and families. You as a business owner have a duty and obligation to take care of your “family.” Make sure you do the pre-work that is needed to minimize the damage if it does happen. It will be time well invested.

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved



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