Preventing panic during an emergency.

How would you rate your organization’s emergency response plans? I wrote about this topic two years ago, sharing how the employer of one card professional had overlooked many details. I’m bringing the issue up again because of the recent news of water contamination in Corpus Christi, Texas. My parents-in-law spend the winter there, so I heard first-hand accounts of the situation. Does your organization have water contamination on its radar? The extent to which this type of disaster would affect your organization depends on your business, but it may have broader reach than you think. The only way to become more prepared for any situation is by completing needs assessments, as described below.  

Water Contamination

In the Corpus Christi area, the initial communications instructed citizens and businesses to not use water for anything, including bathing, because a chemical used in asphalt may have contaminated the water supply. The water still would not be safe even after boiling. In an office setting, this is manageable (at least in the short term), but many industries rely on wateragriculture; healthcare; manufacturing; and commercial kitchens in restaurants, schools, office cafeterias, etc. Imagine the impact at home and work.

Emergency Purchases

Everyone is competing for the same necessary items. Obviously, the most important one is bottled water. Other purchases include hand sanitizer; cleansing cloths/baby wipes; and disposable plates, cups, and so forth to prevent washing dishes in contaminated water.  

Planning Ahead

I contacted an AP professional who works for a senior care facility in Minnesota. She confirmed that her organization follows a state mandate to have an alternate source of water, so they have a contract with a local bottled water company. In short, they have to calculate their water needs (the quantity of water needed per resident per day) and the bottled water company has to be able to comply with those requirements. This brings us to needs assessments—the process of:

  • identifying possible scenarios that could affect your organization (e.g., natural disasters, fires, water contamination, etc.), and
  • determining what would be required for an emergency response and business continuity
No need for a panic button. Solid preparation now can help your organization effectively respond to an emergency.

No need for a panic button. Solid preparation now can help your organization effectively respond to an emergency.

Needs Assessments

Consider the following types of questions for different kinds of emergencies/disasters, as each one will likely require a unique response.

  • How would your organization be affected? Would it be business as usual for all employees or would you close for any length of time? Would you utilize a contingency site, if applicable?
  • What would your organization need to purchase?
  • Which vendor(s) would be able to meet your anticipated needs? Is it possible to set up related contracts now?
  • Who would be responsible for buying what is needed? Do they have a card today?
  • What will you need to do concerning card spend limits and MCC restrictions?
  • What will be the purchasing process? Ideally, you want to avoid having your buyers stand in long lines with citizens buying the same items.

If your organization has not addressed these kinds of things, it could be left scrambling if/when an emergency occurs. It is better to take the time now to plan ahead. Learn more... 

About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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