When a tornado strikes, it happens fast. There’s little time to plan your response. Make sure your organization and community are prepared in advance with a defined strategy to protect your people, places and property from unnecessary loss and devastation.
In 2021, 1376 tornadoes occurred, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Along with causing massive amounts of damage, tornadoes can also be deadly. Over 100 fatalities resulted from the 2021 season. More tornadoes occur in the United States than any other country, and they can happen at any time of year.
It’s imperative that organizations and governments take proactive steps to prepare for the dynamic risk posed by a critical event like a tornado. A successful plan includes a critical event management platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This will help you identify dynamic risk, inform and protect employees and citizens, and maintain operational continuity. When honed in unison, these efforts significantly improve your overall organizational resilience.
Tornadoes and Dynamic Risk
Dynamic risk is defined by threats whose consequences are just as unpredictable as the critical event itself. Tornadoes are a prime example. Because the initial resulting damages are often catastrophic – loss of life and extreme property damage – organizations may overlook the secondary and tertiary harm, such as labor shortages and supply chain disruptions. Have you considered all of this in your business continuity plan?
Overcoming the Odds
While we can’t change the weather, we can definitely prepare for it and align priorities to achieve successful outcomes. A well-considered approach can help you respond and adapt to tornadoes more effectively and minimize the resulting damages. This means planning, equipping and training personnel, so when the time comes you can swiftly execute your defined strategy. Can you do all of this?
- Devise strategies to prevail during uncertain conditions, decide on future courses of action and distribute these plans to all stakeholders.
- Test your processes, communications and accountability tools frequently to make sure your people are familiar and all systems are working properly.
- Ensure everyone understands their role during an emergency and pre-assign duties for key personnel.
During the Event:
- Recognize early warning signs and proactively communicate necessary precautions, as well as potential impacts.
- Utilize an alarm system that can trigger pre-recorded alerts through multiple modalities, including email, SMS text, voice, desktop alerts and mobile push notifications.
- Deliver timely and relevant alerts as the situations unfolds, to coordinate across departments for a synchronized response to the emergency.
In the Recovery Phase:
- Monitor the state of ongoing disruptions such as road obstructions, school closures and utilities outages.
- Adjust staffing schedules and notify employees of these changes, including when it’s safe to return to the workplace and where they can find resources such as first aid and food distribution centers.
- Review an audit trail of all actions and communications during the event to maintain accountability and improve your critical event management practices going forward.
Proactive communications preparedness reduces overall risk to your organization and community. A modern critical event management strategy is essential to that success.
Modern Critical Event Management
The OnSolve Platform for Critical Event Management (CEM) provides risk intelligence, incident management and critical communications in one streamlined system. By leveraging powerful AI and data science, users are empowered to monitor activities and orchestrate workflows, every day and during events like tornadoes when every minute counts.
Organizational resilience grows when you can get the right information sooner, with more time to react and more confidence in your execution. Here are three ways OnSolve helps make it happen when a tornado strikes:
AI-powered OnSolve Risk Intelligence scans global data sources 24/7 to identify hundreds of thousands of critical events each day, including weather phenomenon. The technology filters through the noise of irrelevant events to provide users with details on the potential impact of a critical event in real time. Actionable information enables your organization to make informed, proactive decisions that result in better outcomes.
In the case of a tornado, OnSolve Risk Intelligence gives organizations and communities the timely information they need to identify which staff members and residents live in the storm’s projected path. Individuals in harm’s way can be warned and evacuated, improving safety protocols and helping to reduce fatalities.
Most importantly, the information is provided with context that makes it specific and relative. For example, if a major tree fall has caused a power outage and road closures in an area where a number of your stakeholders live, you can provide them specific details and updates as work crews remedy the situation.
Who Do We Tell and How?
Communication is key to managing the safety of all stakeholders, including employees, customers and citizens. OnSolve Critical Communications allow response teams to send targeted, time-sensitive notifications for weather-related alerts and other notifications.
With two-way messaging, alerts can be sent to specific individuals, and they can send word back. Questions such as “Are you safe?” or “Do you need assistance?” can now be asked and answered during a tornado. Once the crisis is over, mass notifications also help ensure business continuity and disaster recovery. Most likely this will necessitate shifting your staffing schedule. Two-way messaging ensures you can communicate the changes, confirm employee status and availability, and offer assistance.
What Do We Do About It?
Effective OnSolve Incident Management delivers the ability to mobilize emergency response plans in an instant with real-time visibility and orchestrated coordination. Rapid and effective recovery is then facilitated by keeping everyone informed as the situation unfolds. Secure, interactive instructions are easy to update and distribute.
Once the tornado has passed and it’s clear your people are safe, business continuity procedures such as communicating cleanup coordination, delivery and distribution of tools and supplies, and tips to avoid latent dangers can begin. And when it’s time for an after-actions review, a chronological audit trail of every action allows a thorough post-event analysis for future improvements.
It also supports your safety and accountability endeavors. What if a week after impact a dangerous gas leak is discovered near your premises – have you notified everyone whose route to work may bring them into proximity? In such moments of urgency, it’s near impossible to manually track who you’ve contacted, when and whether they responded. The audit feature does this automatically, which helps prevent oversights while supporting legal compliance.
Ensuring safety during dangerous situations like tornadoes requires cohesive and effective communication across teams. Through the OnSolve Platform, your organization can benefit from faster response times, shorter recovery times and consistent actions to preserve stability and strengthen organizational resilience.
A well-considered strategy can help you prepare for and align organizational priorities to achieve the best possible outcomes during severe weather events, such as tornadoes. A good way to understand if your business is prepared for the challenges a tornado or other significant storm brings is to conduct tabletop exercises. Learn what an impactful tabletop exercise looks like and how it can help make your organization better prepared for a major weather emergency — register today for this webinar scheduled for March 9 at 1:00 p.m. EST featuring PreparedEx and OnSolve.