Assisting all workers

Once the imminent disaster is over and second responders have begun to secure the area, the safety of those who work at businesses impacted by the disaster becomes a concern.

Peter Picarillo is executive director of the Fulton, NY-based Business Network of Emergency Resources, a nonprofit organization that issues credentials allowing workers to enter disaster areas. He previously served as an emergency manager in New York City for 15 years – a position he had in 2001 – so he understands the confusion that exists in a disaster situation. “We had to do an ad hoc credentialing system during 9/11, which was just horrendous,” he said.

BNet works on creating public and private partnerships to provide safe disaster area access for essential employees. “We typically deal with emergency management agencies and the police agencies where we are because it’s usually the police enforcing the programs and the emergency managers that have the big-picture view of what’s happening,” Picarillo said.

Safety is a component of the credentialing process. Employees are required to complete online training that includes a section on safety, and no one is allowed back into the area until it has been deemed secure.

“They do not begin allowing people back in until immediate life-threatening safety issues have been resolved first,” he said. “So nobody’s walking into a gas cloud or stepping over dead bodies or anything like that. We don’t send people into any area that’s a threat to their physical safety.”

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