Preparing for the worst may seem too fatalistic for some. It is only natural to want to deny a future catastrophe. But preparing now might not only prevent a calalmity it might allow you to survive the worst should it happen. A crisis manager outlines a test to see if your prepared.

In an Instant—Your Worst Nightmare Comes True

by Leslie Habetler

A snag falls, the wind shifts, a tire catches the treacherous edge of the road, a crew driver decides to pass and in an instant, your company is in crisis. How you respond can make all the difference in the survival of all you have worked to build.

Companies in the firefighting industry in the U.S. who have suffered such crises recently know all too well the agony of trying to locate next of kin, bringing home and laying to rest their fallen firefighters and consoling the families and crews. They have endured the strain of hordes of media, investigations, and making hundreds of decisions under incredible pressure while keeping their companies running. The exhaustion of crisis is bone deep. The memories last a lifetime.

What would you do if that phone rang for YOU today? Are you prepared? Crisis is never easy, but preparing now while you are not staring down the barrel of a full-blown incident will help you and your company survive.

Take the test below to assess your state of readiness to handle a crisis.

1. Do you make a habit of ”hunting for alligators” in your organization? (Alligators are situations or practices that can trigger a crisis incident.)

2. Do you have a written crisis response plan? Have you tested it?

3. Does your plan have contingencies for action if you are not available?

4. Do you have a trained crisis response team?

5. Have you and your assigned spokespersons been trained in how to do interviews with media, how and when to release information, how to keep track of the deluge of media, how to protect your employees and the families, etc.?

6. Do you have a complete and accurate list of all employees, including names of next of kin, addresses, phone numbers, etc.?

7. Do you know how to develop key messages about the incident to use in communication to employees, the public, and the media?

8. Do you have a one-page backgrounder on the company for media and other interested publics?

9. Do you have a system for communicating crisis information to employees who are at dispersed sites?

10. Do you have the number of a crisis communication expert who either can advise you over the telephone or assist you on site.

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, you will have a better chance of successfully leading your company through a crisis.

Leslie Habetler is president of Dynamic Communication Strategies, a crisis management consulting firm, 541-338-4333,,

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