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The Official Baldrige Blog

Five Ways Baldrige Helps Organizations Consider Emergency Preparedness


“Unfortunately, we live in a world where bad things happen,” writes Sam Shartar, senior administrator for the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response at Emory University, in an article entitled “How can hospitals possibly prepare for disasters? With practice and planning.”

“The truth is that while we may not know the exact nature of a disaster, we do know that catastrophes will happen,” he writes, recounting recent horrific news in the United States and around the world.

In addition to man-made catastrophes, we also know about natural disasters, such as tsunamis and hurricanes, for which all organizations need to be prepared in order to continue operations, as appropriate.

Such thinking drew me to pick up first the Baldrige Excellence Framework for health care, but then also for business and education, to check the guidance on emergency preparedness. What I found are considerations for planning and preparation in the face of catastrophes. What’s more is that Baldrige guidance is part of a systems perspective, meaning that alignments are made among considerations for emergency preparedness and governance, emergency preparedness and operations, and emergency preparedness and information technology, for example.

According to the Baldrige Excellence Framework, “disasters and emergencies might be related to weather, utilities, security, or a local or national emergency. The extent to which you prepare for disasters or emergencies will depend on your organization’s environment and its sensitivity to disruptions of operations. Acceptable levels of risk will vary depending on the nature of your services, supply chain, and stakeholder needs and expectations.”

As a collection of “the leading edge of validated leadership and management practices,” the Baldrige Excellence Framework considers emergency preparedness part of an organization’s efforts to

  1. prepare for disasters and emergencies through considerations of prevention, continuity of operations, and recovery (item 6.2)
  2. address a safety system through accident prevention, inspection, root-cause analysis of failures, and recovery (item 6.2)
  3. ensure that hardware and software systems and data and information continue to be secure and available to effectively serve patients, students, other customers, and organizational needs (item 4.2)
  4. work with and consider its reliance on suppliers, vendors, and other partners (item 6.2)
  5. strengthen its societal contributions (item 1.2)

As Shartar writes, “Planning and preparedness efforts [help to position] personnel for managing . . . . responses. Those efforts highlight the importance of diligent planning and exercise programs. These preparedness activities make communities more resilient and ensure that key personnel are poised to respond appropriately to mass casualty events.”

The Baldrige framework may be another tool that can help an organization plan and prepare for emergencies, thinking across the entire organization in a systematic way to ensure and strengthen responses when catastrophes do occur.

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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