Are You Ready

Situational Awareness is the ability to identify, process and comprehend the critical elements of information regarding an incident. In other words, it’s knowing what is going on around you. Situational awareness requires two distinct activities:

  • Collect and validate the information: This requires you to observe, acquire and compile the information
  • Process the information: You must assess the information and orient yourself to all of the possible impacts

Collect and Validate Information

You need to collect information from Internal and External sources.

Internal Sources

  • What do you need to know from all of your locations? You need to carefully consider these five areas:
    • People
    • Facilities
    • Technology
    • Business Operations
    • Reputation and Brand

A sample set of questions to use to gather information might look like this:

  • Life safety: People
    • What do you want to know on the “disease front” (Employee health and safety issues)?
      • What is happening in their area or region?
        • Give us a picture of what is going on in the area and region
        • Social media, public reporting etc.
        • Changes in government restrictions or guidance
      • What is your current employee illness count?
        • Compared to “usual for this time of year”?
      • Facilities
        • Any health supply-related concerns?
          • Sufficient masks, gloves, wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.?
          • Other facility issues?
        • Technology
          • Sufficient bandwidth for a large work from home strategies
          • Increase in cyber-attacks?
          • Other technology issues?
        • Business Operations
          • Effects on production – list
          • Supply chain disruption, actual issues occurring now or concerns for the short-term and longer-term
          • Quality issues as a result of the above
          • Customer comments or concerns
        • Reputation and Brand
          • Is the organization in the news? New inquiries?
          • Could the organization become part of this news story?
          • Holding statements at the ready? List stakeholders
          • Crisis communication advisors on call and at the ready?

External Sources

You need a solid set of validated solid, credible health sources. This might look like:

You also need a good, solid and credible list outside news sources

  • New York Times
  • Washington Post
  • Bloomberg News
  • Guardian
  • NPR

If you are going to use social media as a source, you MUST double or triple validate ALL social media posts. Conspiracy theories abound and you must be careful when citing any social media post.

Process Information

Now that you have collected and validated the information, you must process and organize it into some meaningful format. One of the best ways to do this is to organize the information into a Situation Status Report (AKA SitRep).  This ideally would be done daily. This allows all of the Crisis Management Team (tactical) and the Executive Team (strategic) members to be working off the same information. The World Health Organization has a great new format for its SitRep 2019nCov reports. They are well organized, easy to read and have the critical information presented on the first page in a very digestible and easy format. Check their website for copies of their report: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/  You should be downloading it daily as part of your data collection.

Lastly, once you have your SitRep report, you can use that to develop your Incident Action Plans[1] which provides your crisis team with the structure, direction and guidance that they need to be successful.

The Long Haul

Lastly, pace yourselves. This could go on for weeks or months. Be aware of staff fatigue, including your own. Develop staffing charts as necessary. Be ready for the long haul. And remember to eat well, stay hydrated and take good slow deep breaths from time-to-time.

[1] Crisis Management: How to build a powerful program, Incident Action Plans, Chapter 12 pages 183 – 194