Getting Through a Crisis - Contingency Plans

Now that our closets are filled with toilet paper, what’s next? The current crisis shows how closely we are interrelated and how strong and how fragile those relationships are. This is true both from the perspective of health and economics.

So far, all of us at ABS are healthy and we have been able to continue working for our clients. If this crisis unfolds as I expect, this will continue until there is some new normalcy. In our industry, most of us will keep their jobs or return to them after layoffs. Hopefully, personal losses will be limited. For many others, the losses, both financially and, more tragically, personally will be catastrophic and long-lasting.

At first glance, it appears that there is little any individual can do in the face of these external events. You may not think that covering your mouth, wearing gloves, or washing your hands frequently will make much of a difference. However, if you consider the converse, a thoughtless asymptomatic COVID-19 infected individually can easily spread the virus and infect numerous others through their careless actions.

Going beyond the simple and important actions that everyone of us can take, there are countless medical staff who are risking their lives to help others. There are also others who are taking risks to supply food and other essentials.  Some are giving their time and money to lessen the impact of this crisis. We are grateful to all of them.

This pandemic will end, although not as soon as any of us would wish. Unfortunately, other disasters will occur. There are lessons one can learn from the current situation. First, this pandemic was anticipated. Individuals such as Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, and others warned of precisely this type of pandemic years before it occurred. The government had even planned for this to happen eventually. Projects for reusable face masks, the mass production of masks, stockpiling of masks and other supplies, better CDC connections with China for these types of situations were all funded, but these projects were later all unfunded or cancelled in recent years.

Preparing for disasters may seem superfluous in good times. In this case, had previous plans been supported, the current crisis would have been mitigated and lives would have been saved. The bigger lesson is that often major problems are foreseen, but society often fails to act effectively, whether it is a potential pandemic, education, infrastructure, or climate change.

On a smaller scale, these harsh lessons apply to how businesses function. We may foresee the need for cash reserves, the possibility of a power outage, a hurricane, or a fire, but often these potential problems are glossed over. At ABS, we have had disaster contingency plans in place for years. Risks were evaluated and rated, but we did not specifically plan for a pandemic. However, we were ready for many of its consequences even though this specific situation was an unknown.

In disaster situations, facility access is often limited. Remote operations are routine for us. For example, I have lived in San Diego for over 20 years, and still easily interact with our headquarters in Delaware and elsewhere without difficulty. Our software systems seamlessly link our staff and operations. Because our systems have been largely paperless for over a decade, most administrative and client services functions move forward without any central office.

Our facility is monitored remotely with cameras and sensors. A backup generator automatically powers our site and equipment, such as freezers and incubators. Because our staff is cross-trained and all projects are tracked in our database, if someone is absent, others can readily continue their work. It’s not possible to anticipate every problem, but with planning and implementation, the impact of many potentially harmful situations can be greatly lessened.

If your organization is experiencing difficulties during this crisis, ABS is here to help. Likewise, when things get better, we are there to help speed your return to normalcy and growth.

Most importantly, be patient, be kind, and take care of one another.

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