ASK THE EXECUTIVE
A Look Beyond the ‘Obvious’
When Planning for Disaster
By SARA WILLIAMS, CBCP
Ryan Ault is the emergency response manager for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. He is also an armed forces veteran, a former lieutenant of animal services in California. Ault is certified in swift water
rescue, rope rescue, large animal handling, trench rescue, collapsed structure, and wildland fire.
The “devil is in the details!” How many times have we heard
this statement? Let’s explore how this might apply to one aspect
of business recovery planning.
Companies rely heavily on “critical staff” and have a tendency
to feel they “will be there when needed.” However, when a disaster strikes, people worry as much about their pets or livestock
as they do their families. If there is little or no plan in place for
this aspect of their lives, the company’s critical staff will either
not be available to help or won’t be fully attentive to details the
company might be expecting.
There are a variety of “not-for-profit” organizations that come
together to assist with community disasters. Best Friends Animal
Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, has become internationally recognized
for providing support to people and their beloved pets. The following is an interview with Emergency Response Manager Ryan Ault.
WILLIAMS: What can companies do pre-disaster to help
reduce the need for your services in a disaster ultimately making
the company and community recover quicker?
AULT: If businesses look at making sure their employees
have the information or can get the education they need to be
best prepared when a disaster strikes, the end results will be the
business getting themselves back online and back to business that
much faster. The less down time, the fewer losses! Small things
business can do are provide/communicate the information that is
already gathered for the animal owners and lovers among their
employees from sources like Best Friends and FEMA. Make sure
any issues or disaster specific to the businesses are talked about
or have a link off their human resources site. Make the information easy and accessible to their employees and make sure they
know about it. This is a win-win situation for businesses. It not
only shows the employees that their concerns and well being are
shared by the business, but the employees being better prepared
will allow them to return to work and be productive that much
quicker after a disaster.
WILLIAMS: What are your thoughts on the “lost or homeless
pet” having consequences for business recovery if the pet was
owned by one of their critical staff? If so, how companies can
address this issue.
AULT: I believe that new hire orientations and further train-
ing for all employees can address how companies can help their
employees with pet issues during a disaster and maybe inventory
all company pets.
The relationship between humans and animals is very close
and of primary importance. Animals are rescued and sent to a
variety of locations so they are cared for and out of harm’s way.
These locations could be controlled by a variety of agencies.
Capturing the names and contact information for potential agencies in your area could make this process quicker and less frightening for your staff and thus more available to your company.
Minimally, companies in disaster-prone areas would benefit by
factoring this into their recovery process.
For more information on Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and links
to other animal rescue organizations, visit www.BestFriends.org.
Sara Williams, CBCP, is certified with DRI International. She is currently
a business continuity consultant for Jack Henry & Associates. Williams
recently rolled off the DRJ Editorial Advisory Board after four years of service.