A Worthwhile Resolution (Nick Thompson Commentary)

At the beginning of each year, many of us attempt heartfelt personal resolutions to lose weight, eat right and exercise more. In 2005, your local American Red Cross would like to offer another resolution by challenging Arkansas' businesses to adopt a preparedness resolution for their business, their employees and their customers.

The idea is to make Arkansas' employees and workplaces safer and truly ready in the event of an emergency. Effective planning is an essential step toward preparedness. Your Red Cross is ready to help with your company's 2005 New Year's resolution to become prepared. Now more than ever, employees are concerned about their well-being and their ability to react quickly and appropriately in an emergency. In an increasingly competitive world, your employees and your customers must remain confident and assured about your company's ability to deliver regardless of an emergency.

Companies have a duty not only to their employees but also to their customers to minimize the effects that a disaster may have. The mitigation and diminishing of human suffering and physical resource damage is possible if employers invest in the assessment of how to respond in emergency scenarios. It's not difficult for businesses to get the information they need; they just need to make the effort. Your local Red Cross has the resources to help your business build the preparedness plan that best suits your company's needs. Give us a call.

Offering "First Aid and Prepared-ness" training is a tangible way to show your company's commitment to your employees. Our interactive Red Cross training is packed with key information that helps employees stay prepared with valuable lifesaving skills at work and at home. The Red Cross also has created a step-by-step CD-ROM instruction guide to help your business create a continuity of business operations plan. Once your employees are trained and your continuity of business operations plan is drafted, you can form a company response committee charged with annually exercising and executing the initial response regardless of what the emergency may be.

No business is immune to an emergency. Not only is it important for a company to provide preparedness information from a human relations standpoint, it makes good business sense because it helps improve productivity. Make it your personal 2005 resolution to prepare your business, your employees and your customers. The investment in preparedness is one that you can't afford to miss.

Unfortunately, 2004 was another very destructive year for natural disasters. The humanitarian relief efforts were unprecedented and the economic impact devastating. As we are too familiar, Arkansas has and will continue to experience some very devastating natural and man-made disasters that will undoubtedly disrupt businesses, communities and families for extended periods of time. Don't wait for something to happen to your business, employees and customers: Get prepared. In 2005, get off to a great readiness start and commit to adopting a preparedness resolution for your business, employees and customers this year. You'll feel good, your employees will feel good and your customers will feel more comfortable knowing your company has taken the preparedness steps to alleviate business interruptions. Best of all, everyone will know what to do when an emergency strikes.

Arkansas Business Publishing Group and its president, Jeff Hankins, took a remarkable lead with the American Red Cross preparedness challenge last fall. They have trained their employees, prepositioned the right number of first aid kits, created an emergency response committee of employees trained and knowledgeable about what to do in the event of an emergency, and have begun developing a continuity of business operations plan. They are well on their way to being fully prepared in the event of an emergency. Won't you join in?

For more information, please contact the Preparedness Manager, American Red Cross of Greater Arkansas, 401 South Monroe, Little Rock or call (501) 748-1040 or visit www.redcross.org.

(Nick Thompson, a partner in the Little Rock law firm of Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard, is chairman of the board of directors of the central Arkansas chapter of the American Red Cross.)