Kennebec Valley Chamber

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Friday Report ~ November 20, 2015

This is not a drill ~ 
Many years ago on board the Navy Aircraft I flew regularly, I had been up all night and needed to catch some sleep on the way to our station.  There was a spot on the floor of the P-3, near a heater, that allowed me to toss down a pillow and nod off quite nicely.

I had been sleeping for some time when I heard a commotion. Still groggy, I was shocked to hear the pilot's voice on the loudspeaker crackle "3 minutes to water impact." Adrenaline kicked in and I sprung to my feet. A world of thoughts run through your mind when you are faced with an emergency situation. Your actions fall back to the emergency procedures covered by repeated training, but your mind quickly wanders. Which goals went unaccomplished? What loved ones may be left behind? The plane began to bounce in the turbulence as I strapped myself into my seat, suited up and prepared for impact.  How long will it take a rescue to locate us?  As the remaining seconds ticked away, I felt confident that I knew what I was supposed to do, but terrified that the ocean would not be very forgiving on this cold evening. The loud speaker crackled again, and the pilot said "nice job everyone, good drill."

What?!? As it turns out, I am a very sound sleeper and never heard the pilot announce the traditional "this is a drill" before saying "prepare to ditch".  I regained my composure and took some time to reflect on the thoughts that had gone through my mind when I thought it was real. 
Our world is unpredictable. The attacks in Paris last week showed us just how tragic and terrifying life can be. Locally this week, the corporate leaders of Tim Horton's decided to close a number of stores in Maine, including the location on Western Avenue. These store owners, their employees and customers had no warning.
In the aviation community, we prepared for the worst. We carried parachutes to allow us a chance for survival if we had time to get them on. We carried cold weather gear in the event we had to put the plane in the water. Luckily, in my 22 years of service, I never used either due to routinely excellent flight and maintenance crews. But we prepared nonetheless.
While we cannot plan for every possible scenario, we can be prepared for some of the most likely issues that can face a business. Do you have 3-6 months of payroll in a savings account for emergencies? Do you carry the right amount of insurance for equipment failure or weather disasters? If one of your key employees got very sick, would you know how to do their job?
Don't let a single point of failure or a lack of resources derail your entire business. Each industry is unique and no two situations are alike, but you can determine what is right for you with a little extra time invested in "what if" scenarios. Get some manuals written for procedures. Trim the budget a bit to allow for an increase in your cash reserves. In short, always pack your parachute. Remember, if we can help, give us a shout.