Triggers: Getting Ready for the Big One

Download the PDF »

What’s your organization’s “Big One?” Is it a Nor’easter, a hurricane, a wildland fire, a major snowstorm, a heat wave? Is it that labor agreement set to expire in a week when talks have broken down? Or is it that electronic cyber security breach? You know what it is that keeps you up at night. Or in the case of you Storm Nerds, what gets your adrenaline pumping and really makes your day!

You know something’s going to happen, you just don’t know how big, how bad or exactly when it’s going to be.

That’s why you need “triggers.” Using an emergency preparedness process that includes pre-event triggers for planning and activation can reduce the potential collateral damage from a forecasted event. Once an imminent event is recognized, your triggers set things in motion. For example, an impending storm may trigger the prediction part of the planning process, where you reach out to other weather sources and neighboring utilities to find out what’s expected in your area and what impact the weather system has had on other companies.

The next thing to have in place are damage scenarios – models that estimate the potential damage that your system can expect to see given a particular set of weather or other conditions. This can help guide an activation of personnel and resource mobilization well in advance of the event. These scenarios require a mix of both research and creativity. History does have a knack for repeating itself. The only thing that really changes is what you’ve put into place since the last event to give yourself an edge against history.

Triggers and scenarios are the ultimate application of the “If – Then,” proposition. They made Big Blue a Grand Champion chess player. They helped Ben Roethlisberger connect with Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left in the Super Bowl. They even helped Capt. Chesley Sullenberger land an airliner in the Hudson River. And New York City’s own triggers, scenarios, plans, and a little initiative got all his passengers to dry land.

You need to have specified triggers and activation criteria in place to alert and mobilize your teams. Scenarios help your resources understand their roles and follow your process. When you have triggers and scenarios in your analytical tools, manuals or systems (i.e. software) you can get a handle on the potential severity of the impending event and how you need to respond.

Checklist for “The Big One:”

  • Identify your organization’s tension and stress points
  • Research and identify damage level scenarios
  • Identify and organize your solutions
  • Identify your triggers
  • Use Checklists – before, during and after, to address issues and possible options

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment