Be prepared: It’s not just for boy scouts

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Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

The Boy Scouts have a motto: “Be prepared.” Their founder, Robert Baden-Powell, was once asked: “Prepared for what?” His response: “Why, for any old thing.” So it is with the Boy Scouts, so it should be with the modern waste hauler in an era where “any old thing” can range from improperly discarded radioactive and biohazardous waste to signs of terrorist or criminal activity to being caught by extreme weather or other natural disasters while out on the route.

Because the scope is so broad, and in many cases the threat seems so remote, it is difficult to maintain interest and enthusiasm for the work that is required to prepare for a large event. It takes time, cooperation, documentation and practice. It is apparent that what you are doing is preparing the best you can with the resources you have for something that cannot be clearly defined. But, all of this big event planning is extremely valuable and you will especially think so if you have an opportunity to implement your plan. There is a confidence that comes from knowing there is a plan in place that is understood by many, allowing organizations and communities to face the reality of a devastating event with calm and resolve.

This article will plant the seeds of preparation for those companies and organizations that have not already taken steps to prepare for catastrophe. Let’s start by considering the wisdom of Baden- Powell, to be prepared “for any old thing.”

Being Prepared is Nothing New

Most of us have had the experience of improved outcomes because of being prepared with knowledge and/or having appropriate tools. Give it some thought. Perhaps it was as simple as Dad or Grandpa making sure you had an appropriate pair of gloves before setting out to rid the garden of weeds. Is there a good set of socket wrenches in your toolbox because you learned they work better than using pliers for everything? How many sore hands and damaged knuckles have been spared over the years with this simple preparation?

What is an Emergency?

A common definition of the word emergency is “an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action.” What are the most likely emergencies that you may come across on a given day? For many of us it is likely to have something to do with traffic, work, weather or home. There are generally two things to consider: an unforeseen combination of circumstances, such as an accident on a busy highway or the resulting situation that calls for immediate attention—maybe people have been injured in the accident, or maybe you have?

Call 9-1-1
We are fortunate in the U.S. to have a nearly universal availability of 9-1-1. A majority of the time, the first action that should be taken, in an emergency, is to call 9-1-1. This seems like a simple, no-brainer piece of information. However, after nearly 30 years in the business of 9-1-1, I can tell you that the folks that answer the phones appreciate someone that understands what information is important, are able to provide it and be calm enough to be understood. The emotion of an emergency situation almost always has an impact on voice quality, pitch and speed as well as thought process. Ask your local 9-1-1 department for information, a speaker or a tour for your staff or organization. The simple things that you learn and practice may save a life.

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