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Businesses urged to create emergency plan

Cliff Trollope of MNP’s enterprise risk services group with Fort Macleod Chamber president Andrew Beusekom.

Can your business continue when disaster strikes?

That’s the question Cliff Trollope posed to Fort Macleod Chamber members on Thursday.

“As you know, there are a whole bunch of things that can happen that can knock your business out,” Trollope said.

The range of “disasters” is from flood and fire to the long-term illness of a valued employee or the loss of a key supplier.

That’s why business owners have to create an emergency response plan for their own operation.

“It can be done at the small business level,” Trollope said. “It doesn’t cost a lot and it shouldn’t be overly complicated.”

Trollope is a partner in Meyers Norris Penny MNP in the enterprise risk services group.

Trollope was a presenter Thursday during the Chamber’s February lunch meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building.

Prior to joining MNP, Trollope was a senior officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and has more than 25 years of experience in emergency management, business continuity and crisis management.

Trollope told Chamber members the province of Alberta has strong emergency response plans, as do most municipalities.

But businesses have to be ready to look after themselves when disaster strikes.

“You can’t count on your municipality for everything,” Trollope said.

Trollope said businesses must make a plan and have it documented.

No one should believe they can figure out solutions in the midst of any disaster.

Trollope urged businesses to begin planning by trying to imagine every possible disaster that could knock their business out.

As people consider the possibilities, they will be struck by how many things can impact a business.

“It doesn’t have to be the big one,” Trollope said.

Disaster and emergency planning allows businesses to manage financial losses; protect people; protect assets; protect and improve their reputation; enhance service; maintain obligations and relationships; and provide assistance to stakeholders.

Key elements of emergency planning are:

• Build redundancy for IT and other key areas.

• Build in back-ups for key elements of the operation.

• Have contingency plans.

• Insurance support.

“Take some action,” Trollope advised. “You will be farther ahead and the impact won’t be as bad.”

The response plan should be documented and address the following key points:

• What would you do first?

• What would you do if you lost access to your building?

• What would you do if you lost the building completely?

• What would you do if you lost your IT?

• What would you do if you lost employees?

• What would you do if you lost key suppliers?

What would you do if you had a reputation incident?

Trollope said businesses should have a strategy with a list of actions along with needed resources such as phone numbers of key contacts, an alternate location for operations, IT equipment and vital records.

“When something bad happens, you have to win the first 24 hours,” Trollope said.

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