Small Emergencies, Big Learning Experience for Tourism Employer
Sometimes a minor emergency can be enough of a wakeup call to help a business make changes that could be important – could even save lives – in the case of disaster.
Like most hospitality enterprises, Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort and Conference Centre in Parksville has a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan. Following the tragic 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Tigh-Na-Mara management and staff went into high gear and have made a number of improvements in the years since.
“We have a good emergency preparedness plan here,” says Cindy Lunde, Human Resources Manager at Tigh-Na-Mara. “It’s worked well over the years but we’re always adding to it. There’s always something to learn.”
A “big learning experience” happened just last fall, Lunde says, when there was a power failure at the resort.
“When the computers went down we realized we didn’t know who had checked in, where our guests were.”
While this event was merely a temporary glitch, in the case of a true emergency that lack of information could have made it difficult to account for guests, she says.
“Our grounds cover 22 acres so it’s not easy to keep track of where staff are at any time or guests and if you don’t even know if the guests have shown up or not … well, now we print out reports so that we know who is here. In case of a problem we want to make sure everyone in our care can be accounted for.”
New hires go through an emergency preparedness training session during their first week, the resort holds regular emergency drills and the resort is currently making changes to their smoking policy and procedures to help ensure their many treed acres don’t fall prey to fire.
“What happened around BC last summer was certainly shocking. A real lesson,” says Lunde.
She says tourism employers should first look to their local municipalities for help with planning for emergency preparedness.
“Most of them have really good resources to help us create plans to look after our staff and our guests,” she says. “It’s important to have a good plan and to keep updating and improving it and luckily there are many groups who can make it a lot easier to do.”
Planning for the worst
Business management and staff can learn and bond through events such as Tsunami Preparedness Week in April. Host a staff High Ground Hike using information from PreparedBC. Or have staff practise Drop, Cover and Hold On during the annual October Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills around the province. Register at: www.shakeoutbc.ca
PreparedBC has a wealth of information including step-by-step planning guides and templates to help businesses prepare and improve their emergency plans. Info: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc
Don’t forget the needs of staff and visitors with disabilities. Disability Alliance BC has information on this at: http://disabilityalliancebc.org/category/publications/emergency-prep.
In go2HR’s Health & Safety Resource Library, not only will you find health & safety resources and tools, but you’ll also find emergency planning resources for tourism operators, put together by PreparedBC and Tourism Industry Association of BC, along with various tourism industry partners at: https://www.go2hr.ca/resource/educational-info-eg-pamphlet-booklet/preparedbc-emergency-planning-resources-tourism