We all recall what a disastrous year many Americans experienced in the Southeast and the Caribbean with the hurricanes of 2017. A few days after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, leaving 70 dead, Floridians felt the impact of Hurricane Irma, a 650-mile-wide storm that wrought havoc across our state and region with sustained winds of 185 m.p.h. for 37 hours, left millions without power.

Those storms and tragedies, such as the mass shootings in Las Vegas and more recently the mistaken nuclear warning in Hawaii, illustrate that we are in a changing world and must redouble our efforts to prepare our credit unions on how to respond to rapidly evolving situations.

Late last year, I reached out to my colleagues in the surrounding leagues to float the idea of holding a joint disaster preparedness and response conference, for which there was much support.  We have put together a Disaster Preparedness Conference this spring to assist personnel on how to handle the unexpected.

We like to think we’re prepared for any changes, minor or major, that we may encounter in our day-to-day lives. Despite the consideration we’ve given various potential situations, when we’re faced with a catastrophe or tragic event, such as the aftermath of a storms, flooding, fire, robberies/hostage situations, or active shooter, there are many factors that we haven’t taken into account.

The Disaster Preparedness Conference is scheduled for April 4-5 at the Castle Hotel in Orlando and is an opportunity for credit unions to review proven ways to develop a robust continuity plan or to update existing plans. We will have an array of experts in a variety of fields, all in one venue.  You can join in discussions with other credit union leaders and with knowledgeable speakers to discuss your plans not only in the case of natural disasters, but in the face of man-made disasters, as well.

One example of the line-up of speakers for this event is Rob Burton, a principal at PreparedEx, with more than 20 years of experience preparing for and responding to crises. His leadership role involves assisting clients in designing, implementing, and evaluating crisis, emergency, security, and business continuity management programs.

A popular break out session includes an active shooter workshop led by Chad Wilbur, who has over 30 years of experience in defensive tactics.  Each course attendee will learn situational awareness and four essential elements called G.E.A.R. for surviving an active shooter situation.

We will also hear from CU CEOs who have witnessed first-hand the results of tragedies, including John Hirabayashi, CEO of Community First CU in Jacksonville, FL; Erik Shaw, CEO of FivePoint CU in Texas, and Terry Phelps, SVP, Management Information Systems of Local Government FCU in North Carolina.  There are several additional speakers on the program, each sharing their expertise in being prepared before, during, and after disasters.  This event is open to all affiliated credit unions.

It’s often the split-second decisions that mean the difference between life and death, whether a natural or manmade disaster. We want to prepare our credit union family on the best way to respond so that we can operate from a position of strength.

 Where’s Patrick:  This week I will be in the Tallahassee office, leaving for the CUNA GAC on Friday.  To see my tentative schedule for the next two weeks, visit the LSCU Information for Credit Unions’ webpage.