Being Fully Prepared. Why Bother?
Based on a review of what it means for oil companies to prepare for emergencies and situations outside of normal day-to-day occurrences, we look at the benefits of being prepared and why it is favourable.
What Is Being Prepared?
Risks are something that we experience every day with varying scales of severity and consequence. We all have different acceptable or tolerable risk levels that we would associate with any given scenario. Therefore, when we prepare for risk, we have different levels of preparation that we deem necessary. For most people, preparation ceases at having plans in place, which gives us a sense of security we have fully considered the risk; we know how we will respond to the incident should it occur. But how do we know we will respond effectively when the time comes?
Security coming from plans in place is true for all risks in our daily life and can be translated across to the workplace too. We have house insurance and fire alarms, but who has actually walked their loved ones through how to escape a fire in our homes? We all know we have Accident and Emergency services, but who has taught their children how to access the services/make the phone call if they are injured? What critical information must they clearly and concisely convey to the receiving person on the phone? We all know that hotels have emergency evacuation routes, but who does a recce of that route from their room so they know how it looks and feels? Who checks that it is clear of any blockages? The motions of modern life can make a person lose sight of how to balance costs, risks, and priorities.
We have plans in place but have yet to rehearse them. To rehearse them is what we mean by being fully prepared.
If we take a step backwards and look at the mindset of someone who is prepared vs someone who is not, we will see that preparation is a mindset, someone ready to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks and has the desire to learn.
Being prepared is not pessimistic or assuming the worst, as some people wrongly believe; it means that we are willing and able to do something and are ready to respond to challenges that are not the norm. Being prepared means that you have plans in place to carry out a vital procedure.
We can compare choosing to prepare oneself to having a growth mindset. Being prepared also means having a complete understanding of the risks to us. For example, either not being aware of a threat or ignoring it due to the higher stress levels it could potentially create. Education comes into this element of preparedness. Our lives nowadays lure us into a false sense of security through the bubble of everyday life and the perception that "it will never happen to me." There are requirements for re-education where a fixed mindset exists. If the person is unwilling to learn, they may see the effort as fruitless or give up too quickly.
What Is Being Ready?
Being ready refers to an emotional state of readiness. Being ready means having confidence and belief in yourself to respond to the incident. Increasing your readiness means practising and rehearsing in more detail rather than simply having plans in place.
Your mindset is optimistic about the challenge and open to collaboration and diversity with others as required. For some, it may also mean that you might be slightly anxious or nervous about the procedure going to plan, regardless of the state of preparedness.
Why Should We Be Prepared?
Having plans, procedures or insurance in place and resources to deal with emergencies you are most likely to face is a reasonable way to keep yourself and others safe. It does not necessarily mean that we will fully succeed or react effectively in response to the emergency, but being prepared means that we have a better chance of overcoming the challenge and can boost our confidence. Being prepared can also help reduce fear, anxiety and losses accompanying disasters (being ready).
What Does Being Prepared Look Like?
Life has many parallels with lessons that can be learnt and transferred from one thing to another. Being prepared is one of them; it is to have plans, training and education on those plans, to exercise and rehearse the actions comprehensively, and to have mitigation measures in place to reduce the severity. It is the same for us as individuals in our personal lives or as a company or organisation; we can draw exact parallels and conclusions.
Figure 1: Preparedness Cycle - What does it look like to prepare fully?
We give ourselves the gift of time to prepare, train and exercise.
An effective response will take time, practice and experience for some people. We can even learn from our mistakes, look back and plan how we respond to the incident differently and more effectively if it happens again. When we teach our children how to escape a house fire, we need to allow them to think for themselves and guide their quizzical minds to the correct actions. We then need to re-train frequently, so they don't experience knowledge fade.
In a business, preparedness needs a structured system where exercises and training are part of a much broader quality and improvement cycle that will facilitate this learning to ascertain a positive culture.
So Why Bother?
Hopefully, this article has empowered you to go away and check that your plans, safety nets and insurance are up to date and valid, but most importantly, to put the plans into action. You can test and rehearse the practicalities of implementing the plan, allowing you to put in place any additional mitigation measures and refine your actions according to the results.
Put an exercise regime and potential training opportunities for your loved ones in place based on your personal risk assessment, but be sure to make it fun!
For businesses and organisations, obtaining the capacity and opportunity to respond to an incident to the best of your ability, reducing consequences and potentially saving lives can be achieved through completing the preparedness cycle. The cycle should include rigorous training and an exercise regime that tests your response to an emergency based on stretched objectives.
If you want to do further reading, check out this article by Dave Rouse on improving your exercises.
Do you know how you would respond efficiently and effectively during an oil spill?
Our contingency planning service is a systematic approach to explore what can go wrong and the steps to take in an emergency.