Effective leaders plan for the unexpected.
It’s easy to say, “That will never happen to me.” It’s even easier to say it, if after years of almost happenned, it still has not happenned. But, what if you get a double wake up call in one day? Picture the scene of a busy hospital when an earthquake starts to be felt and everyone is forced out to the surrounding grounds for safety. Then, picture all the medical personal already covered in face masks because of the suspected case of a new and deadly virus that they believe had arrived in a patient that very morning – the same virus that has been wreaking havoc in China – the Coronavirus.
Now, the circumstances have greatly changed. “That will never happen to me!” came knocking on the door if you happenned to be on the grounds of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) yesterday morning, January 28, 2020.
Thankfully, emergency plans were in place to quarantine the suspected case of Coronavirus. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when it was proved not to be here this time. But, it was a test of the emergency plans and how effective they were in getting everyone in place and on target to secure the patient’s health, and more importantly to protect public safety.
The earthquake yesterday, was a far more serious threat as it gave rise to memories of the great 1907 earthquake that had completely destroyed Kingston (Gleaner, 2002; http://old.jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/story0017.html). It was that devastation that gave rise to changes in the building code, and subsequent review by the Bureau of Standards in 1999 (https://www.oas.org/cdmp/document/kma/seismic/kma5.htm).
Again, Emergency plans were tested, not just at the UHWI, but across the island as more than 20 students suffering from panic attacks and other heart conditions were rushed to the emergency room of the Savanna La Mar Hospital in Westmoreland at the opposite end of the island. Also, there was serious damage reported to the structure of the Social Development Commission building in St. Elizabeth. These were just a few that made the headlines (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2S3ol3cWkK0).
But, communities all across Jamaica, and throughout the region including the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the Bahamas and the coast of Florida from (Tallahassee to Pensacola), were arrested by the movements experienced by shaking buildings and their contents swirling, tumbling, and/or crumbling (Charles, Flechas & Rabin, 2020; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/latinamerica/latinamerica-top-stories/powerful-caribbean-earthquake-shakes-buildings-in-jamaica-cuba-—-even-downtown-miami/ar-BBZq5VF?MSCC=1580316071&ocid=spartandhp).
Since 2020 has begun, just 29 days old, there have been almost 9,900 quakes of magnitude 2 or greater as reported by Dr. Tom Pfeiffer, a private tour operator (https://www.volcanodiscovery.com/earthquakes/monthly/news/95198/Earthquake-report-world-wide-for-January-2020.html). As at January 28, 2020, the strongest of the 10 strongest quakes was measured at 6.8 and it hit Turkey on January 24, 2020. The second strongest quake, measuring 6.3 magnitude, occurred in the Caribbean region, hitting Puerto Rico on January 7, 2020. However, yesterday’s earthquake of 7.7 was the strongest so far for 2020, affecting the northern part of the Caribbean and stretching along Florida’s coastline.
And, on the health side, as of January 23, 2020, all 800 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the world were all in China, as well as the 25 deaths that had occurred.
By today, January 29, 2020:
“◆ The number of confirmed cases increased to 6,065 on Wednesday, according to the World Health Organization. The number on Tuesday was 4,515, according to China’s National Health Commission.
◆ Thailand has reported 14 cases of infection; Hong Kong has 10; the United States, Taiwan, Australia and Macau have five each; Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia each have reported four; Japan has seven; France has four; Canada has three; Vietnam has two; and Nepal, Cambodia, Germany and the United Arab Emirates each have one.
◆ Cases recorded in Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam and Japan involved patients who had not been to China. There have been no reported deaths outside China” (New York Times, January 29, 2020; https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/29/world/asia/coronavirus-china.html).
No doubt, leaders everywhere are assessing their emergency plans, activating old ones, creating new ones, and implementing management systems to manage expected aftershocks.
Do you realize that the same principle holds for our lives? After years of never experiencing the far-fetched crisis, suddenly it hits our lives. The unthinkable happens. The unexpected is now expected. And, the unfathomable becomes reasonable. Don’t be caught without an emergency plan for 2020! Anything can happen! Everything is possible! So, work with your team, be they co-workers, or just family and friends, to ensure that all is secure for your future. Establish a plan that will account for everyone and create a holding pattern until the crisis is past.
A few ideas include a buddy system at the office or at school, so that you meet your partner and take cover together. If phone calls have to be made, establish a dialing sequence, so that each person gets notified quickly. Place emergency plan diagrams in visible areas in your building. And, in case the communication systems fail, designate an assembly point where the group will gather and a fast account can be made of missing persons.
There is no time like the present. We can make it. We just have to plan for it. See “Finding Your Way Out” (https://crystalclearvisionblog.com/2017/09/14/finding-your-way-out/) and more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .