Minding your own business

Technically business continuity, as the name suggests, is designed for businesses. But the principals behind it are just as relevant to your home life as they are to your working life. Are you prepared?

As the Business Continuity Lead for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), it’s essentially my job to make sure that our service is resilient, prepared and has contingency measures in place to help us in almost every thinkable eventuality. This week is the global business continuity awareness week, designed to teach people about business continuity management and how they can benefit from it.

Organised by the Business Continuity Institute, this year’s theme is ‘counting the cost’ – basically highlighting the potential consequences of not having an effective business continuity system in place.

We’ve been talking to staff this week about how business continuity works in our service; looking at what we’d do if our IT systems failed for example, or if one of our buildings was lost in a fire. Or how we’d cope if something happened to a station’s water supply, or if a large number of staff were taken ill unexpectedly. It’s important to think about and plan for all scenarios, to make sure that if something happened we could carrying on delivering a high-quality, uninterrupted service for patients in the east of England.

And although my role is to look at business continuity specifically for EEAST, there are still some considerations all of us can take in our personal lives as well. How much time, money and effort you invest is of course entirely up to you, and will depend on your circumstances and your attitude to risk. But here are some things to think about.

  • If you had to leave your home in a hurry –are you and your family practiced in leaving quickly in the dark?  What about if the path to the usual exit point is not available – do you have an alternative?
  • What would you take with you? You haven’t got time to search so they need to be readily available. Think about:

–          cash
–          credit cards
–          warm clothing
–          mobile phone
–          keys, for both house and car.

  • What documentation is at risk? You could consider scanning these important documents so you have a copy elsewhere.
      • Insurance certificates
      • Contact numbers
      • Security numbers
      • Driving licence
      • Birth certificates
      • Photographs

And what about your computer? Is it backed-up somewhere off site?

I am vulnerable to some of these risks as I am sure you are – and I am sure you can think of many more.  Similar risks arise when you travel away from home – do you take important contact details and pass numbers with you? How do you do so safely?  If you lose your credit cards do you have the numbers to call?

Password protected documents are not secure and there is software available that can search a hard drive for documents with passwords, and then breach them.  I forgot an Excel password once and it took about five minutes with Google to find a work around.

Strangely, it can sometimes be better to hide information in the open! A telephone number in your address book with a bogus name and number that actually relates to an account for example.  Remember nothing is 100% unless you have an excellent memory.

Sometimes just taking a moment to think about these things can be enough to put a plan in place – but I would encourage you all to take the time to do so.

And finally, I will leave you with a ‘quote of the day’: Life is inherently risky.  There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing,” Denis Waitley.

Ian Crowson
Business Continuity Manager
East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust

You can read more about business continuity awareness week by visiting the Business Continuity Institute website: http://www.thebci.org/index.php/upcomingevents/bcaw-2014

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About East of England Ambulance Service

Our aim is to be the recognised leader in emergency, urgent and out of hospital care in the East of England....
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