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All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to dealing with an emergency.

Your Basic Emergency Plan

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice-President, Government Services at Eagle

The tragic and senseless death of Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the War Memorial in Ottawa last month served as a shock to many Canadians and will have ramifications for years to come in a lot of the things we take for granted, even in the workplace. While many of us are familiar with the urban office building, fire drills, we are far less prepared or even fathom practicing an emergency situation like a lockdown as we experienced in the urban office core of Ottawa the day of the shooting.

It probably goes without saying that US organizations are far more used to these scenarios than their Canadian counterparts and may have better evolved communication plans and practices as a result. Ironically, and sadly perhaps, the next generation of business leaders and workers are also better prepared since their schools are now practicing lockdowns and how to handle similar situations. Many of today’s Canadian organizations and business leaders, however, do not appear to be so prepared.

While Business Continuity Plans for most medium and large organizations are in place, many have not been dusted off or updated, often due to budget cuts and perhaps a sense of complacency. Many will have contemplated a pandemic like H1N1, but not a lockdown in a fluid urban office setting.

As independent contractors, it’s also important to be prepared and have a plan for such Emergency Plan Bookemergencies, especially if you’re at a client site where there is no clear plan.  One very simple way to do this is to know your Basic Emergency Plan for any situation.  For example:

  1. Perform a preliminary assessment.
  2. Evaluate the risks to determine your next steps.
  3. Develop a communication plan.
  4. After the dust has settled, evaluate the situation and determine what you could have done better. Document your ideas and develop a preventative plan.

In the above, when an emergency strikes, steps 1 to 3 will happen almost immediately. One of the most evident and clear observations I had first-hand in Ottawa last month, however, was the absence of reliable information that was needed to go through these steps.

Ironically, in today’s age of ubiquitous and lightning fast information at our finger tips, the flip side of that phenomenon was also true. All information — right or wrong — gets out.  The day became a track meet of what we soon found out was misinformation courtesy of Twitter, Facebook and even other more traditional mediums available on desktops. “Two shooters”, “three shooters “, “another shooting at a nearby mall”, “shooter(s) on roof tops,” and “stay away from windows” were just some of the scenarios that gained speed throughout the day.  People would have had to sift through all of this and determine for themselves if it was safe to leave a building, if they should close their blinds or if their children should leave school.

This only seems to be getting more challenging in today’s technology-driven world and filtering through information isn’t going to get any easier.  What you can do is research your local media outlets and determine which one you trust the most and stick to just that (Tip: this probably shouldn’t be Facebook).  Also, ask yourself a few important questions now:

  • Do you know your client’s emergency plans?
  • What about your agency’s?
  • Will you follow all of their procedures, or follow your own when you feel it’s safer?
  • What’s your family’s emergency communication plan?

As most urban buildings already do with the basic fire drill, organizations and independent contractors alike also need to ensure they have a plan for all emergency situations and lockdowns.  It’s nearly impossible to predict every scenario, but the more basic preparation you take, the easier it will be to take on the unexpected emergencies.  Do you have a Basic Emergency Plan? How much have you prepared?  Share your strategies with our readers in the comments below.

Do You Have an Emergency Plan?

Independent Contractors Should Always Be Prepared for the Unexpected

Independent contractors have many advantages; however, they also accept risks. One of the risks they face is downtime, for whatever reason, because they are not paid.  At one point or another, most companies’ management teams sit down and strategically build an emergency plan based on different scenarios – whether it’s a fire, health pandemic, natural disaster or some other terrible event that causes a shutdown.  We believe that all businesses should go through this exercise, especially one-person businesses or independent contractors.


  1. These situations have happened in the past, are currently happening in other countries and will happen again, and while some we can predict, others come out of nowhere. Just look at the Calgary Flood in the summer of 2013 or the H1N1 pandemic back in 2009 and of course, the Ebola breakout happening today in many African countries.
  2. When these unexpected, uncontrollable events occur, workplaces are closed, and there can be widespread disruption to the economy.

As important as it is, being prepared for this type of situation doesn’t have to be extensive.Crisis To get started, ask yourself a few of these questions:

  1. Can I afford to not be paid for a month? Two months?
  2. Can I plan, with my current client, to be able to complete some work from home if the office environment is closed?
  3. Does your client have any sort of plan?
  4. Is there a way risks can be minimized?  For example, for health scares, does your client have education programs, flu shots, hand washing policies, etc.?

If you are concerned about your potential financial situation, NOW is the time to do something.

  1. Change your lifestyle to allow you to put away some money for a rainy day. Reduce costs, put in more hours now, force yourself to save.
  2. Work with your bank to establish a line of credit.
  3. Create a budget that will allow you to “weather the storm” of a forced layoff.

We all hope that we’ll never be affected by a disaster or pandemic, but the probability is that it will happen at some point, and we all need to be prepared.  Do you have a plan? What are some back-ups you’ve prepared?  Share your advice in the comments below.