Preparing for an Emergency

“ Secure your own mask first, and then assist the other person. “

When traveling by air, we often multitask during the portion of the trip when flight staff go through the safety demonstration, describing the features of the aircraft, the various rules for the flight, and instructions for what to do in the case of an emergency. At best, these instructions only receive a fleeting moment of our attention before we shift focus to the book we want to read, or the ever-important decision of what type of beverage we are going to order as soon as we are in the air.

The same may be true when we see stories in the news describing a natural disaster or significant community disruption affecting a community in some far off location. The pictures and stories displayed on the screen may grab our attention and we think about how scary and difficult it must be for those affected, before we move on to hearing about what the Kardashians are up to this week.

Both of these scenarios illustrate that, for many of us, we have a passing awareness of things that could happen, but we often don’t focus on what we would do if we found ourselves in the midst of dealing with an emergency ourselves. For many of us, dealing with an emergency like this would be something we would figure out as we go.

As YOUR credit union, we recognize the importance of being there to support you, your families and the other members of our community when you need us. That is why we spend time and resources trying to improve our ability to resume services to you in the event of a disaster. This is an ongoing process, and one that we work on to try to improve year after year.

During some of our more recent planning and analysis, we recognized the wisdom in what the airlines tell us each time we fly “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your own mask first, and then assist the other person.” On first hearing this during a flight, one might be inclined to think to themselves, “my child comes first, I’m going to make sure they’re okay before I worry about myself.” As parents, this is a natural inclination, right? However, the wisdom of the instruction takes a more broad view of the issue – yes, we might be able to take care of our child first in that moment. If we don’t make sure that we are stable, we might not be able to respond and assist them beyond that moment.

It is in this spirit that we went to work developing a program in 2018 that focused on helping our staff and their families prepare for a disaster. We are continuing to work on and develop tools we call an Individual Resilience and Preparedness Plan. We have created materials and training to help staff better prepare their own homes and families to respond to a disaster or wide scale community disruption. By putting just a little bit of planning and preparation in place, our employees can be much better prepared when confronted with situations requiring that they act quickly for their own safety and the safety of those they care about.

The recent experience with wildfires in our region illustrates that disasters and evacuations aren’t just things that happen in faraway places, there are real situations right here at home. If confronted with an order from officials to evacuate, having a plan and a checklist will help us feel confident that we know what we need to bring with us, where we need to go, and how we are going to reconnect with our loved ones if we happen to be apart. This peace of mind will help us focus on our safety, and may put us in a position of being able to offer assistance to our friends and neighbors. After all, we secured our own mask first, which then allowed us to offer assistance to others.