Strengthening Disaster Resilience: Safeguard Iowa Partnership's Role in Emergency Preparedness

Strengthening Disaster Resilience: Safeguard Iowa Partnership's Role in Emergency Preparedness Main Photo

11 Aug 2023


Disasters, whether natural or man-made, can potentially disrupt lives, communities, and economies. In the face of such uncertainties, a proactive approach to emergency preparedness becomes paramount. This is where the Safeguard Iowa Partnership steps in, bridging the gap between the public and private sectors to enhance the state's readiness for emergencies. Since its inception in 2007, the partnership has been a driving force behind Iowa's resilience strategy, emphasizing collaboration, education, and planning.

The Upcoming Business Continuity Workshop

At the heart of the Safeguard Iowa Partnership lies the core belief that disaster management should not solely rest on the shoulders of the government. Businesses possess invaluable expertise, resources, and capabilities that can significantly contribute to practical disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. To this end, the partnership organizes events like the upcoming Business Continuity Workshop, which aims to empower businesses across Worth, Floyd, Cerro Gordo, and Mitchell Counties in September 2023.

Mark Tomlinson, Coordinator of Worth County Emergency Management, discusses the importance of the Business Continuity Workshop to local businesses. "Throughout the past, Worth County's businesses and residents have endured many different types of disasters of many different levels. There have been wind storms, heavy rains, animal diseases, plant diseases, floods, droughts, chemical spills and releases, and very commonly, fires that will impact anywhere from a single business to many businesses and their employees. While mitigation efforts and resources spent on reducing the effects of those events are always worth the effort, having a business continuity and recovery plan is equally essential. I am happy to collaborate with Safeguard Iowa and offer this workshop to the community. It will be a great starting point for many businesses to become better prepared should they ever face any disaster. "

“Fostering a Culture of Preparedness”: Jay Knox

Jay Knox, the Executive Director of the Safeguard Iowa Partnership, sheds light on the workshop's essence. “The disturbing facts are that nearly 1 out of 3 businesses are impacted by a disaster, 40% of those fail to reopen after a disaster, and another 25% fail within the first year. Unfortunately, estimates are that between 75% and 80% of businesses don’t have a current plan to deal with a major emergency or disaster,  so that’s why this type of training opportunity is so important,” he says. “ It's not just about drafting a plan but fostering a "culture of preparedness. The workshop adopts a building block approach, aligning private sector plans with public sector strategies. Through sessions on Hazard Vulnerability Analysis and Vulnerabilities Self Assessment, businesses gain insights into assessing threats and vulnerabilities. Ultimately, the workshop equips attendees to construct customized Continuity Plans, ensuring their operations can endure the challenges of disasters.
While emergency preparedness is crucial, smaller businesses often need to work on integrating such plans without straining resources,” Knox says. 

The Business Continuity Workshop offers an accessible solution. Businesses can acquire tools to evaluate threats and implement mitigation measures. The workshop empowers participants to design practical continuity and recovery plans, allowing them to navigate emergencies proactively. Additionally, resources from partners like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/FEMA's offer free guidance.

Disaster Preparedness is Important

The success stories resulting from effective disaster preparedness are inspiring. The anniversaries of the Parkersburg, IA EF-5 tornado and the Cedar Rapids flooding highlight resilience and vulnerability. Shockingly, nearly a third of businesses face disaster impacts, and many struggle to reopen. The need for comprehensive training is evident due to updated emergency plans in 75-80% of businesses. The Business Continuity Workshop strives to address this gap, fostering a sense of readiness within the community.

As a valuable resource, the Safeguard Iowa Partnership extends its assistance through its website. This non-profit organization relies on donations and support from Iowa businesses and government partners to execute its mission. Safeguard Iowa facilitates the amalgamation of private sector resources, expertise, and plans with those of the government across all disaster management phases. The partnership assists in developing comprehensive all-hazard plans, enabling resource pooling, coordinated responses, and shared training opportunities. If you want to attend the Business Continuity Workshops in September 2023, please click the link here. 




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