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Accinctus - Press & Media

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The regulations for Medicare / Medicaid providers and suppliers is being updated including consolidation and enhancement of the emergency preparedness requirements.  These new requirements will require completion of 4 core elements to establish a compliant preparedness program in these organizations.  The presentation includes more information on these changes and 4 core elements.

New Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare/Medicaid Providers and Suppliers

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Last week I had the privilege to attend and speak at the 22nd Annual Fire & Life Safety Educators Conference of the Rockies in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado which was sponsored by the Fire & Life Safety Educators of Colorado (www.FireSafetyEducators.org).  The conference was jumpstarted in the first opening comment by Einar Jensen from South Metro Fire Rescue that stated the whole reason everyone was there was to simply “get better.”  I can’t think of a better way to start a conference!

The key note speakers, Emily Braucher and Wanda Omdahl, certainly presented different perspectives that challenged and pushed people out of their comfort zones.  The third keynote speaker, George Keller, was moving and frightening as he explained the emotions and actions he took to do the right thing as he turned his own son into the police after discovering he was the country’s worst serial arsonist.  The many breakout sessions were professional and I wish I could have attended all of them as I found every one enlightening and educational.  The fantastic sessions I attended addressed: 

  • The psychology of decision making in a crisis

  • Lessons from our devastating wildfires and mitigation principles

  • Statistical analysis being used to prevent injuries in children by focusing education on the greatest risks in specific communities

  • Upcoming legal requirements and challenges for emergency and contingency planning in Long-Term Care Facilities

  • The initial analysis of the public health implications of legalized marijuana in Colorado

In addition, the impromptu after dinner tour of the Estes Park flooding and recovery efforts by someone who grew up in the area was very eye opening (thanks Ashleigh). 

For my presentation (Bridging the Public-Private Sector Gap in Preparedness), I wanted to focus on a different perspective for the conference audience since 99% of them represented public response organizations.  My goal was to increase their awareness in regards to the differences between the highly structured public sector (fire, police, EMS, etc.) and the rather flexible, haphazard, and even non-existent approach (sadly) in the private sector in regards to preparedness and business continuity.  I think one of the points that surprised many of them was the difference between their highly regulated organizations and the lack of legal or regulatory requirements for the private sector to plan and prepare for business disruptions or disasters. 

It wasn’t all work with the (play money) casino night bringing a bit of fun to what otherwise was always very serious topics.  I can now honestly say I’ve played poker against two actual clowns and lost my chips in the end to one (nice last hand “Patches”)! 

Going through my notes a week later I can gladly say that I met many great professionals who welcomed me in their circle despite being the odd-ball from the private sector and learned about many topics I have less experience with.  I highly recommend to my fellow private sector professionals (whether you’re in business continuity or disaster recovery) to look for similar opportunities to meet and learn from our public sector counterparts. 

Overall, I know I can say I “got better” and hopefully I helped someone else say the same.  I hope that I will be invited to present to the group again in the future. 

Be Aware – Be Prepared – Be Safe.


Friday, 06 February 2015 00:00

“Is Our Organization Prepared for Disasters?”

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Has anyone ever asked this question in your company?  Do you know if your church or non-profit organization is prepared for disruptions?  This is a difficult question that I’ve discussed with business continuity professionals, business owners, and managers many times.  How do you honestly know you are ready for the most likely disasters and disruptions?  How do you know if your business continuity, disaster recovery, or risk mitigation plans will be effective during those critical moments during and after an incident that threaten your employees, operations, profitability, or reputation?

I’d like to start by stating that it is not possible to be 100% prepared for all disasters and disruptions you may face.  There is no such thing as a perfect plan or perfect training that provides all the answers to every situation your team members and employees need to know.  So before we move on, you have to accept that no matter what you do the real world will challenge your organization with unique circumstances and factors that you did not anticipate.  In essence, what we are actually striving for is the appropriate level of “prepared enough” versus the impossible “perfectly prepared.”

There are three steps that must be completed to reach the answer to the question.  First, you need to define what is “prepared enough” for your organization.  This must be a decision by leadership identifying the organization’s risk tolerance and preparedness strategy based on knowledge of potential threats (natural, man-made, and technological), the impact of those threats on the organization, and when the impact on your operations moves from acceptable to unacceptable.

The second step is taking action by planning for those disruptions and then training your staff.  Unless your perspective is “I don’t know and I don’t care” (which I highly recommend against) you need to plan how your organization will respond to incidents when they happen. The second and more important part of this step is to train your response staff, managers, employees, and volunteers on the processes and actions you want them to take.


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It’s almost Halloween, I can tell by all the typical signs around my house: bags of candy I’m trying hard not to open, pieces of kids costumes still in production on various tables and counters, and replays of old monster movies that I’m missing on cable this week.  Haunted houses, trick-or-treating, and plenty of scares and frights.  Fun, right?


But for a moment let’s put the fun aside and address a different type of frights, particularly the things that scare you as a business leader, manager, or owner.  Market changes, IRS audits, lawsuits, and impacts of new regulations are some of the normal things we worry about.  But what do you fear?  What types of events or incidents go beyond a “worry” and should be classified as more of a “nightmare” situation for your business?  We all have a list of these – go ahead and think of 3 events that if happened, could put you out of business or worse.  I also know that list is realistically far longer than those 3 things you just thought of. 


From a business continuity perspective we use the term “threat” and normally we categorize them as natural, man-made, or technological with some threats broken down as accidental or intentional.  Natural threats include thunderstorms, blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes, or even pandemics or diseases such as avian flu or Ebola.  Technological threats focus on impacts to networks, systems, or data from hardware failure, system outage, or cyber security breaches.  Man-made threats are highly unpredictable and can range from a minor incident like a medical emergency or increase in scale to bomb threats and workplace violence up to riots and terrorism.  The truly frightening fact regarding these possible incidents is this - you have no control over these threats.  Zip, nada, nothing.  Threats are uncontrollable.  They will happen and at some point they will happen to your business or organization.


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To wrap up my awareness campaign for this years’ National Preparedness Month I want to address an area that is normally overlooked but is important – preparedness for churches, faith-based and non-profit organizations.  A few days ago I found a good discussion regarding the threat and general lack of planning for active shooter situations at churches.  The original post and link to the article by Melody Lauer (usually known as Lima) can be found here.  The focus of the discussion that I agree with 100% is that churches don’t spend much time preparing for threats, even though in the last few years there has been no shortage of examples of churches impacted by violence, protests, and natural disasters. 

Faith-based organizations have many challenges beyond what businesses must prepare for.  Churches are soft targets (meaning easy to attack) because of the general culture of being open to all.  I also consider churches as soft targets from natural threats since most churches are a combination of old, large, or mismatched buildings that may not be the most resilient to natural disasters.  The risk to churches increases dramatically based on additional services they provide such as daycare, schools, shelter services, etc.  Any services involving children or the elderly must be appropriately accounted for.  Churches may also have increased threats due to global, cultural, or political issues.  Lastly, churches and other faith-based organizations may have increased operational requirements during and after a disaster or incident; specifically if they are a designated shelter, food pantry, or emergency counseling center.

So why don’t churches take the time to prepare?  First, churches (like three quarters of American small and medium businesses) tend to believe these incidents won’t happen to them, which is especially amplified in smaller organizations.  Further, they usually have a small staff focused on administrative and ministerial positions and are not likely to have experience in safety, security, or preparedness.  Third, churches may not realize they have legal requirements they need to comply with.  Lastly, churches face the same budgetary and resource constraints that businesses face and mitigation and preparedness may not be considered a requirement.

Churches, faith-based organizations, and non-profits cannot claim in today’s environment “We didn’t know we were at risk!”  So what should they do, keeping in mind realistic constraints of resources and mission needs? 

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Last week, my awareness article for National Preparedness Month focused on family evacuations, a few personal lessons, and a free evacuation checklist you can download for your family (catch up here).  For this week’s topic I want to shift gears and focus on business preparedness.  Specifically, I’d like to address a few fallacies, incorrect assumptions, and excuses that actually increase your business risk on top of the natural, man-made, and technological risks a business already faces. 


Incorrect assumption #1:  It won’t happen to me.


I am amazed at how often I hear this from business owners and managers.  One doesn’t need to be a preparedness expert to realize that no matter where you are in the country, you face not only natural hazards (floods, wildfires, hurricanes, blizzards, thunderstorms, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.) but also man-made threats (power outages, water outages, protests and riots, crime and violence, etc.) and technological threats (cyber-attacks, hardware failure, sabotage, etc.).  The list is too long to name every threat here, just open your local paper or watch the local news – it’s a sure bet you will find at least one threat mentioned almost every day.  Fact is, bad things happen and it always happens to someone.  Someday that someone could be you.  Accept the threats and do something about it.