Volume XVI | Issue 1 | Spring 2016
Kellye Wise, Roseburg’s senior vice president of human resources, had tested the company’s emergency management plan one year earlier, when a wildfire burned through the mill town of Weed, Calif. Photo: Rebecca Taylor

Emergency management

A plan tested under fire puts Roseburg Forest Products in control

When an emergency occurs, the need to communicate is immediate. Emergency management plans give organizations the ability to respond to crises in a calm and systematic manner, with staff who are trained and practiced. They allow for streamlined communication inside and outside the organization. 

Roseburg Forest Products’ emergency response to the shooting at Umpqua Community College was a response that had literally been tried by fire — one year earlier, when a wildfire burned through the town of Weed, Calif., heavily damaging the Roseburg veneer facility there. 

“Our approach was refined during the Weed fire incident,” said Kellye Wise, Roseburg’s senior vice president of human resources. The experience showed Wise that HR was a natural hub. “Human resources collects the information, and disseminates it back out as confirmed or relevant or both,” he said.

When word of the shooting at Umpqua Community College reached the plant, the human resources department took point on the company response, emailing managers and directors and posting updates on the company intranet. They responded to the blizzard of media phone calls with compassion and concern, while protecting the privacy and identities of employees swept up in the tragedy.  

Connecting families

Employees with family at UCC were told they were free to leave work; many of them sent back valuable information on the ever-changing situation. The company tracked down employees offsite. 

“We had a forester whose wife is a student at UCC, so we sent someone to the woods to find him,” said Wise. 

The company’s immediate response was to manage the information flow, internally identifying the victims and their ties to the company. Next, the company began coordinating efforts around meeting victims’ needs, which included taking care of medical bills, memorial services and meals. The third stage was to manage longer-term needs, making sure affected workers do not lack necessary resources.

READY.GOV

This guide, available at ready.gov, outlines measures businesses can take to prepare for emergencies.

The company’s response followed protocol outlined on the federal government website, ready.gov. The site offers a wealth of resources for businesses that want to develop a preparedness program. In addition to responding to human-caused emergencies like the UCC shooting, the Ready Business program also can be used in response to natural disasters, such as earthquakes. Topics covered include crisis communication, resource management, business continuity and employee assistance.   

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