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  • Writer's pictureErika Andresen

Disability and Inability Shared Solutions

Part of business continuity is taking care of your employees. I'm going to meld my BC background with my emergency management background which teaches special measures for vulnerable populations in the community. Because people make a lot of (incorrect) assumptions about what's enough for everyone. And you're going to see how it helps your business.

In your workforce, for example, you may have an employee with a disability. I've previously posted on linkedin after the active shooter incident in Maine where a majority of the victims were deaf people playing in a cornhole tournament. I sent out a request to all my EM/CM/BC peers asking about what warning systems do deaf potential victims get since they can't hear shots being fired or screams? Is there any special kind of training for them? The answer I got, sadly, was "no." I did learn, however, for major sporting arenas and hotels, flashing lights are required so deaf people know to look around and down at their phones to get emergency alerts...but that's for any emergency, not just an active shooter. And the flashing light system isn't for random bars.

A solution can be found, though. The NYPD figured out a way to work with the deaf community when they are approached by cops so the cops didn't think they were reaching for a gun instead of their pad or phone used to communicate. Things can be done.

What if your employee can hear, but they can't talk? 

I encountered a woman recently who couldn't talk due to the radiation treatment she received for her cancer, It left her with a barely audible rasp for a voice. She told me that she can't call for help due to her voice. Can you even imagine?? But she has a solution: smart911. I did some research.

*This is not an ad for smart911, just sharing valuable information.

Smart911 is an app. It allows users to upload necessarily information about herself - medical conditions, allergies, emergency contacts, address (as much or as little as you want). If you ever heard a 911 call you know there is a lot of interrogation that the dispatcher engages in to send the police and EMS information so they know what they are facing. I'm not going into the details of the app and how it works since that isn't my point. It serves a purpose for a mental exercise. 

Some systems are dumb. Literally dumb. They are older and can't access newer information. 911 is one of those. Did you know over 70% of 911 calls come from a cell phone? And that 911 dispatch does not get an exact location of those callers? It makes it hard to locate them and send help at a time when an extra 2 minutes can make a drastic difference. That was never a problem with landlines.

The medical alert system was created to solve a problem just like this: an elderly person home alone falls and can't get up or reach the phone. Smart911 is really just the modern age version of this with a broader application.

Not being able to talk doesn't have to be from a disability. It can also be from smoke inhalation if there is a fire. Or a crushing chest wound if there is a structure collapse after an earthquake. Or a terrible warehouse accident.

The mental process to get here - to think about these issues and the what-ifs - is exactly what business continuity does for your business. EM falls under the BC umbrella, and like many everyday examples, you are well versed in BC principles even if you don't realise it. You may never think about these things because you never had to. You can easily extrapolate how one issue or solution can easily be translated to something you are familiar with in your business. 

That's what people like me are here to point out to you. And help you through the process to get early solutions that can save your employees and business.

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