FleetSpeak

Preparing for the Next Natural Disaster

October 5, 2012

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

Natural disaster preparation in my elementary school consisted of duck-and-cover earthquake drills and a brand new wheeled trash can filled with water bottles and granola bars, and maybe some canned pineapples. As an adult, my earthquake kit usually consists of a few gallons of water stored under the kitchen sink and whatever remains edible in the cupboards.

You can imagine my horror then when I woke up at 3 a.m. on Labor Day morning to an earthquake. Not a big deal, just a 3.3 in Beverly Hills, two miles away from where I live. It sure felt like a big deal though, as I’ve been known to sleep through fire alarms and nearly every other earthquake I can remember. I thought it was the big one, ready to separate California from the rest of the country.

Flooding, hurricanes, snowstorms, the constant threat of earthquakes we face in California, and heck, even the supposed impending end of the world, had me thinking about disaster preparedness.

A fleet manager, no matter how he or she handles emergency management at home, has to have a plan in place to ensure emergency response vehicles keep moving and fleet employees are safe. Some points from the Certified Public Fleet Operation (CFMO) checklist for emergency planning include: a back-up fuel plan for 30 days of fuel, which may be an agreement with a retail station or nearby public agency; rental agreements with local vendors in place for emergency equipment use; facility backup in case of loss; and sending out an entire inventory list to the emergency management office regularly for emergency access to equipment owned or used by other departments.

One important point I recall from John Clements’ (City of San Diego) presentation on emergency preparation at the recent Rocky Mountain Fleet Management Association (RMFMA) show in Arlington, Texas, was to be personally prepared in order to be useful to your organization. This can be something as minor as, if you’re stuck at home, having your cell phone fully charged, or capable of being charged, in case the power and phone lines are out. This way, you can still communicate with emergency personnel and any of your staff working while you’re at home.

I think I can learn a thing or two from Mr. Clements.

News reports say all the Beverly Hills quake did was scare some tourists. Same for the small follow-up earthquake that same week. The Beverly Hills fleet, for the record, was not at all affected. But the fleet is prepared, in any case.

What’s been your biggest emergency, and how did you prepare or respond to it? When was the last time you reviewed your emergency plan?

Comments

  1. 1. Steve Kibler [ October 08, 2012 @ 06:04AM ]

    Great points Thi, however during a regional or national emergency the cell phone grid would be overwhelmed and your cell phone would likely not work. Governement agencies should apply for and get a (Government Emergency Telecommunications Service) GETS card . (Perhaps Mr. Clements mentioned this) These cards provide a 1-710 number and a code to allow emergency personnel to get priority cell service during an emergency. Oh by the way, a good service dog could be trained to wake you up so you can see the BIG ONE...

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Thi Dao

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Thi is the executive editor of Government Fleet magazine. She is interested in maintenance management and alternative fuels.

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