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The Ecosystem of a Crisis – We’re All in This Together

You are in the middle of your monthly board meeting. Tom is pitching his plan for fourth quarter marketing. Is your chair moving? You feel slightly off balance. As you look at the group around the table, you notice that everyone is slightly distracted and then concerned. One by one and then all at once, each person realizes that something is very wrong. By now, the blinds are swaying and the windows are shaking. There is rattling and low rumbling. You hear raised voices and shouts of, “Take cover!” You do what you practiced in drills; waiting out the tremors under the conference room table.

That was a big one. Thank goodness your organization participated in the ShakeOut this year! The scariest part may be over, but seasoned emergency and BCDR managers understand that this is when the real work begins.

Take a mental snapshot of this place in time. Something major has just happened that affects a wide geographic area. Hundreds or thousands of people have just gone through some variation of the same trauma. Trained professionals do what they’re trained to do. Others will do what their instincts suggest: they prioritize the well-being of their friends, family, and co-workers above all else.

Real people live and work in areas affected by real disaster. Even if something like a mid-size earthquake occurs without notable damage or injury, work may not fully resume until people know that their colleagues, neighbors, and loved ones are safe and that their homes are still standing. This common sense behavior is validated in the results of an American Red Cross Survey from 2012 indicating that, “Three out of four [respondents] contacted friends or family members after seeing information on a social media site.”

This snapshot moment is when productivity has slowed dramatically or stopped altogether; this is the moment when commerce is unstable, or unavailable. In the event of a small earthquake, it might be a relative blip, but what if there is a tornado, hurricane, large earthquake, or terrorist attack? The impact might not only be tragedy from loss of life, health, and safety, but also damage and destruction of critical infrastructure for businesses – in a word “normalcy.”

The ecosystem of normalcy is that majority of time where everything is as it should be. People wake up in their homes and start their days, drive to work or telecommute using critical infrastructure. They do their shopping, go out to lunch, and carry out their business as usual.

It may seem counterintuitive to focus on economics or loss of revenue and productivity during crises, but our communities are not just accidental groups of people deciding to live in close proximity to one another. Communities grow from organization of opportunity, desirability of geography, availability of services, and family.

The ability for a community, region, or country to quickly and efficiently manage and recover from a crisis is vital for the ecosystem. If you are an emergency manager for a local community or an operations manager for a corporation or small business, you must ensure that your families, constituents, employees, and their families return to “business as usual” as quickly as possible. It’s critical for each individual contributor, but beyond that, we also have an economic imperative to our communities to ensure that we have the tools to minimize the disruption caused by crises and emergencies. We cannot prevent every crisis, but we can all recognize that we really are in this together to efficiently mitigate and recover from these critical situations.

Everbridge has a unique perspective of more than a decade of experience, innovation, and thought leadership, but perhaps most importantly, we work across the spectrum – from federal and local governments, schools, and healthcare organizations to individuals, local businesses, and multinational organizations.

We understand the needs of each sector; because we really are in this together.

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