In Part 1 of this three part series, I wrote about the ‘Big 5’ preventative measures in managing risk. Part 2 dealt with the fine print of insurance policies – aka policy wording and in this article I conclude the series with Incident Management. By André du Toit.
Have you ever heard of Black Swan events? The term refers to an event that is a surprise to the observer and has a major effect, but is often inappropriately rationalised in hindsight.
These events were thought to happen infrequently, largely due to the slow spread of information, and the fact that these events were rationalised. Now with the ability of information to spread virally, these events ‘appear’ more frequently and before they can be rationalised. How you manage incidents is critical to the sustainability of your business and indeed the tourism industry as a whole.
The capacity of tourism businesses to deal with critical incidents and accompanying exposures has proven to be a GAP of its own. Most rely on staff and assistance companies to manage their incidents and evacuations, and whilst these are often carried out with acceptable outcomes, the mine field of potential exposures that have been escaped en route is terrifying.
It is important to understand that we cannot predict when and where an incident will happen, who will be there to deal with it, and what the outcome will be. Every incident is different, so it’s important to manage according to principles, and not predetermined protocols. Don’t use checklists; use resources. Don’t decide on your emergency response plan ahead of time; decide what you need to do when you understand what is happening. Treat each risk as unique. It’s okay to be abstract and vague before an incident and SPECIFIC during one.
How we think is the crux of everything.
We are all guilty of hind sight bias as it re-assures us of our actions. Even when something does go wrong, we tend to believe it could’ve been worse if we hadn’t done XYZ.
It is a fact that staff are prone to positive bias because of their role within the staff-guide-guest relationship and as a result tend to choose the more positive option when given two.
Two characteristics common to individuals in tourism are:
1. Premature closure – jumping to conclusions.
2. Action orientation – tend to take practical action instead of waiting for someone else to provide instruction. Sometimes this can be dangerous as the skills and expertise in incident management may not be present.
Hospitality staff have powerful action orientation tendencies, and are some of the worst at premature closure. Both can have detrimental effects in the course of incident management.
These are the honest truths and facts:
• It is a rare person who is genuinely calm whilst responding to a threatening incident;
• It is a rare person who consistently makes good decisions under those circumstance;
• Nobody is naturally equipped to function in a multitask, multivariable rapidly changing stressful environment and those that choose to, are even rarer;
• Everybody has limits. Exceed those and performance drops.
DON’T EXPECT your PEOPLE to manage incidents – EVER – they need HELP from EXPERTS.
This is what is required in order to manage an incident and ensure the best outcome:
• Gather information about the incident – getting accurate data / asking the right questions;
• On-site first aid;
• Managing the scene – staff and guests;
• Managing the media – reputational damage and accurate reporting;
• Consulting with doctors;
• Communicating with all stakeholders;
• Activating and coordinating appropriate assistance e.g. Dispatching ambulance – ground or air;
• Arranging guarantees of payment and insurance;
• Preparing for Hospitalization;
• Post-operative care;
• Managing potential litigation or claims.
Find me someone who can do this all, and manage your business, and I will arrange the necessary spandex with cape and undies on the outside, because they will be worthy of superhero status!
With all due respect to your operations and teams on the ground and considering the way we think and act under stressful circumstance, I don’t believe many have the capacity to deal with the scenario (or would want to) when in actual fact they should be focusing on the remaining guests and leaving the incident to a network of trained professionals.
Types of Incidents: • Emergency medical incidents; • Personal injuries / fatalities; • Accidents (motor vehicle, quad-bikes, boating etc.); • Assaults and Robberies; • Natural disasters (Flood, fire etc).
Core services to subscribe to: • Telemedical consultations; • Incident management plan creation; • Remote management of rescue and medical staff; • Medical evacuations; • Post traumatic risk assessments; • Media management; • Legal liability management.
Why do you need Incident Management Services?
• Because people’s lives and wellbeing depend on the right decisions being made;
• Because it is better to professionalize the management of critical incidents;
• Because dealing with emergency situations is beyond your scope of work;
• Because your business and its reputation is at stake;
• Because you are seriously exposed to liability when critical incidents occur;
• Because the cost of liability can easily exceed R100 million;
• Because it’s not worth taking the risk.
As you will appreciate, it is not one specific action that will mitigate risk but rather a combination that will reduce your exposure at the end of the day. There are a network of experts and specialists out there that you can team up with to better manage your risk and provide you with peace of mind. Use them.
About the Author: Andre du Toit is the Sales and Marketing Director at SATIB Insurance Brokers, a registered financial services provider with offices throughout South Africa and in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.