When Bad Things Happen

bad things

It’s one those things that we don’t like to think about. One of our volunteers gets hurt; or a volunteer makes a mistake and a client gets hurt. A fire starts in the building. A tornado alert is issued. When bad things happen, you need to act.

My dad used to say “Panic kills more people than everything else combined.” So, no matter what the emergency is, your first task is to take a deep breath and become calm.

You CAN deal with this.

You can deal with this because you’ve prepared. Here’s how.

List every kind of emergency that might come up.

A lot of these will depend on what your organization does. An animal shelter will likely see dog bites, for instance. Other emergencies are universal. Fires or earthquakes or tornados.

The same emergency may need to be handled differently depending on the organization. A therapeutic riding association I work with, for example, had to evacuate its horses because of a forest fire, while another organization mobilized to protect the habitat of an endangered species.

Create written procedures and PRACTICE them.

Have measures in place to deal with each one of those emergencies, and practice them. When I was in elementary school, we had fire drills once a month. At first, they were a shambles, but after the third or fourth time, we knew exactly what to do and where to go. By the end of the year, the procedure was so ingrained in us that we could have done it in our sleep. Hear the bell, line up, follow Mrs. Hartford to the big tree in the corner of the school yard.

Once a week, run through your procedures in your mind. Picture yourself doing them step by step. Review the written procedure right afterward to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Have the procedures posted where everyone can see them.  A couple times a year, do a full drill. That way you’re not the only one who knows what to do!

If you don’t have your first aid ticket, get it!

Your organization should pay for it for you; after all, you’re getting it to help them. (If they fuss about it, give me a call; I’ll give you some talking points to convince them.) You may want to have a few people with it; there should always be someone on site who can deal with medical emergencies. In fact, in most places it’s a legal requirement.

Bad things happen.

You can’t always prevent them. You can, however, be prepared. The more you plan ahead, the less likely that the bad thing will become tragic. Stay calm. Focus your adrenalin toward doing what needs to be done.

You’ve got this!

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