The 500 year flood occurring in Cedar Rapids Iowa illustrates how quickly your world can change.
Very few people expected a flood of such magnitude.
A 500 year flood means it might happen about once in 500 years.
Sorry Cedar Rapids, this is your year.
I’ve talked about this before, every radio cluster needs a clear emergency plan.
Think about a variety of potential situations. They could be weather related, a train derailment, major traffic accident or wind swept fires like in San Diego last year.
What is your plan?
These things often happen late at night or over a holiday weekend.
Here are questions designed to get your thinking started on ‘Plan B’ for that day when you’ll need it.
- How will local authorities contact your key people to alert them to the situation?
- Who will ‘quarterback’ the station response?
- is there a ‘hotline’ in the studio answered 24 hours a day?
- Do you have a reliable answering service who can contact your key team members in off hours?
- Are you or someone on your staff available 24/7?
- How will you contact your staff? Who makes the calls?
- What determines ‘an all hands’ situation?
- How familiar are you and your staff with people who run the local emergency services?
- What happens if the phone lines are out?
- How do you communicate without cell service?
- Are you plugged into the local amateur radio groups?
- Are your scanners operational with current frequencies of local emergency services?
- How will you get your staff to the studios if roads are out and weather is bad?
- What about backup power sources?
- How will you respond if staff members choose to stay with their families and protect personal property?
- What provisions have you made for your own family and property?
- How will you feed staff members if power is out and restaurants are not available?
- How do you involve all your stations in the plan?
- Have you considered joining forces with competing stations in extreme situations like the New Orleans Broadcasters did during Katrina?
- When do you throw out the format and go wall to wall with coverage?
- Have you studied what other stations have done in similar situations?
And that’s just the short list.