A Publication of WTVP

By dedicating a small amount of time and resources, businesses can increase their resiliency in the event of a disaster.

Almost one third of businesses fail to reopen following a major catastrophe. In our region, that would affect a staggering number of companies and individuals—not including the effects on our economy and community resources. Any number of emergencies, including natural disasters, could threaten any business that is not prepared. While the most important pieces in preparing any business plan include time, money and resources, an integral part should also include business continuity of operations.

A Sobering Prediction
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. government agency assigned the task of protecting us from all sorts of nasty diseases and infections, has made a sobering prediction on one specific disease that could affect the whole country, including our business community: expect an influenza pandemic in the coming years.

The CDC predicts that as many as 25 to 30 percent of the U.S. population could be affected by the expected pandemic, impacting the financial and operational aspects of the American business community. Businesses would not be able to adequately operate in the event of massive absences from the workforce due to sickness, quarantine or isolation. Everyday businesses would be affected, including healthcare, food establishments, groceries, retail and communication companies.

So how do we as individuals, business owners or the government prepare our business community for a pandemic of influenza? We promote business continuity planning. This planning refers to maintaining business functions and being able to quickly resume functions in the event of a major disruption. A Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) outlines procedures and tasks a business will follow in the event of a disaster. An organization’s resiliency, or continuity capability, is the ability to continue performing essential functions and is directly related to the plan’s outlined procedures and preparedness activities. This resiliency capability relies on four key components that are the foundation of continuity planning and program management: leadership, staff, communications and facilities.

The Foundation of Continuity Planning
When developing a COOP, special attention should be paid to these four components to ensure business continues to meet its mission during and after a disaster:

We rarely get notified that a disaster or emergency is about to strike. And even with some lead time, multiple things can (and probably will) go wrong because every incident is unique and unfolds in unexpected ways. However, business owners are not helpless or at the mercy of all potential hazards.

By dedicating a small amount of time and resources now to the development of continuity-of-operations plans, businesses can increase their resiliency to a disaster. Practice the plan with your leaders and staff, and give your organization the best possibility of success during and after a disaster. For assistance with developing a COOP, visit iBi

Marks serves as Emergency Preparedness Coordinator at Peoria City/County Health Department, using his expertise to assure a prepared response to threats to the public’s health. Learn more about the benefits of public health policies and programs at