The events of Sept. 11 have left all of us with memories we'll never forget. Some have called the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon the greatest tragedy that has ever happened to the United States of America. Some might argue that point, but from what I have seen on television and conversations I've had with friends across the country, what occurred Sept. 11 was one of the most heinous acts ever imagined.
All of us are left with indelible thoughts and memories of what took place. We will never be the same again, but in spite of all the tragedy, there are lessons to be learned from this dastardly act. Lessons so fundamental and basic that all of us should have these things imprinted on our brains.
First, though we never think it's going to happen to us, no matter who we are, we should have an emergency plan in place in case anything disrupts our normal operating procedures.
If I had told you there was a possibility that the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York would be destroyed by two commercial jet planes hijacked by terrorists, you might have thought, with good reason, that I had flipped my lid.
That's why having an action plan in place, just in case something does happen, doesn't seem so far-fetched. Too many businesses and individuals feel they are above all this and don't do the things that are absolutely essential in order to prepare for a crisis.
The response of the medical community in New York was simply magnificent. Everyone should be proud. But thank goodness there was an emergency medical system in place in New York as a result of the National Disaster Medical System.
The NDMS, a partnership of various government agencies and private businesses, coordinates medical professionals and paraprofessionals into medical assistance teams whose members are prepared to respond to a disaster. Each team has a sponsoring organization, such as a major medical center.
The second lesson to be learned has to do with storage. Do you have a backup system for all your patient data?
Wall Street was able to get up and running so quickly because most of the brokerage houses had data stored across the river in New Jersey. They were prepared, and that is the basis of any contingency plan.
But too many businesses and other enterprises simply don't prepare for the worst. Most smart managers and executives aren't afraid to face up to reality.
The last lesson has to do with leadership. Its value is priceless. Quality leadership can get an organization through any untoward event. It can make the difference between winning and losing, and it takes hard work, discipline and training.
There is no substitute for leadership training. It helps prepare managers and executives for those moments when all heck is breaking loose and they have to keep a cool head.
Many universities offer first-rate leadership courses and seminars. They could be the difference between surviving and going under.
Take an inventory of where you and your colleagues would be in case of a disaster, and then take action to make sure everything is in place.
Do it now,
Charles S. Lauer