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Emergencies happen: Here are some lessons we’ve learned to be more prepared

See what we have learned about emergency preparedness in our ongoing efforts to respond to COVID-19.

With COVID-19, we watched the world change overnight. Amongst other things, I realized that while you can prepare for a variety of emergencies, you’ll never be able to anticipate everything. For example, I saw global supply chains that seemed strong, struggle to meet demand (who can forget the shortage of toilet paper?) Continuing to live through this has taught all of us some valuable lessons about emergency preparedness.


What did we at Amazon Business learn? While the below isn’t a comprehensive list, I’ve outlined some of the most important takeaways that we’re incorporating into our emergency preparedness strategy.


1. Identify potential types of emergencies and appropriate responses

it’s impossible to think of everything, but try to address all potential (and realistic) emergencies that could threaten the safety of workers. Emergencies can range from active shooter, to seasonal weather, to a natural disaster, or global pandemic. It’s important to weigh vulnerabilities based on the location of your workforce; a workforce that is remote may prepare differently than one operating out of a central physical location. For example, I work out of an office in Seattle and we’ve prepared for a potential earthquake. It might seem scary to think about these dangerous situations, but the key to preparedness is to acknowledge and plan for as many situations as you can.


Tip: Each emergency plan should have a documented organizational response that you carefully research and align with any federal or statewide protocols. Include information on where to locate supplies (food, water, or medical items) stored on site and a schedule of when to refresh those resources.



2. Design a communication strategy

Communication is critical and during emergencies, it’s important to note that messages may range by location or person. If your organization has many offices across geographies, blasting the company about an emergency specific to one city may be inappropriate. Likewise, a message intended for a security team may incite panic to a wider audience. Good emergency planning includes a clear structure on how to send out a mass communication and tenets for a message’s content, audience, and frequency.


Tip: Include a regular testing schedule for mass communication tools.


3. Establish leadership roles and required employee trainings

Having an emergency plan is great. However, to implement these plans you need a trained team of emergency response leaders and a mechanism to educate your workforce. Emergency plans should outline current emergency response leaders (people who volunteer in addition to core responsibilities or emergency response professionals) and their respective responsibilities. These plans should also detail the cadence of educating the greater workforce. This may include a schedule of drills (fire escape, shelter in place, etc.) or frequency of formal training. Some companies require that employees take an annual digital training on how to prepare or respond to emergencies. During these trainings, employees learn about personal safety tips, protocols for specific emergencies, and recommended practices.


Tip: Encourage employees to store medicine, snacks, and comfortable shoes in their desks at all times


Remember that preparing for an emergency is more comprehensive than what I’ve outlined above, but these three steps are a good place to start. Check out the National Safety Council’s guidance on emergency preparedness for more information.


Amazon Business is here to help. You can stay prepared during the pandemic and protect your customers and employees by visiting the link below. 

Stay prepared during with infection prevention supplies

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