Dollars and Sense


The Value is There, Even if You Can't $ee it

Last month I wrote about how little many employers and Organisations devote to emergency preparedness. It seems that unless that need is actually the 'squeaky wheel' it rarely gets any oil.

Well, this past month my emergency management consultancy, CAPACITY Building Emergency Management has invested several thousand dollars updating our website and our client portal to PHP 7 (It’s a computer coding script). When you next log onto our website ( you’ll see that this investment in time, effort and money has resulted in …………… well….. nothing, nadah, zip.

Everything is exactly the same as it was before all the effort and time (and money).

And that got me thinking because that is very much like emergency management. A lot of time and effort goes into planning, training and exercises and I suspect many of your colleagues (and perhaps your boss) look at it as pointless. It’s hard to see or quantify the cost when you can’t really see any actual difference or demonstrable improvement.

That is; until you need it!

The thing is, large scale facility emergencies thankfully don’t occur that regularly in Australia. We are fortunate to have a well-regulated building industry and effective building codes that prevent many small incidents becoming tragedies.

However, this past month has exposed the severe deficiency surrounding the lack of emergency planning, training and practice at Dreamworld courtesy of the Coronial Inquiry into the Thunder River Rapids ride tragedy.

One of the two ride operators told the inquest she had been told “don’t worry about” the emergency stop button next to her at the unload area - a button that would have stopped the ride conveyor in two seconds. She said she had completely forgotten about the button. The other operator claims he pressed his emergency button but this button allegedly takes nine seconds to stop the ride.

Neither of the two emergency buttons were labelled as emergency stops. Neither of the ride operators knew the difference between the two buttons. Nor did any of their fellow ride operators. Under close questioning, Dreamworld’s engineering, safety and attractions management staff almost all admitted they, too, did not know of the difference between the two emergency stops.

The important take-away from this is that emergency management is not a cost, it’s an investment. One of which may not result in any obvious tangible benefits – until it does!