One quarter of corporate respondents said they have never conducted a disaster response exercise, according to a survey from the National Emergency Response & Rescue Training Center, although most companies have a plan in place.
The survey demonstrates how businesses have absorbed the lessons of last year's hurricane season, yet how much progress still needs to be made.
About 83 percent of the survey respondents claimed to have updated their disaster response plans within the last year, but the numbers for practicing and testing these plans are lower.
In the real-estate sector, according to the NERRTC survey, 53 percent of respondents said they had not conducted test exercises within the last year. In comparison, in the energy sector--one of the most prepared industries in the study--19 percent of respondents said that they had not conducted exercises and training within the last year.
Harrison Lobdell, director of NERRTC, said that training employees and conducting exercises are two of three key ingredients in a successful business-continuity program.
For any business to be prepared, said Lobdell, they must not only develop a good plan but also train to be able to execute it and conduct exercises to ensure it works.
According to NERRTC, experts recommend conducting exercises as frequently as once a quarter for specific risks and sites, and at least once a year for exercises that bring together a company's full emergency response.
NERRTC's Web survey included 629 respondents from six sectors, as well as phone interviews with industry "thought leaders." All companies involved in the survey had 500 or more employees.
NERRTC, a part of the Texas A&M University System's Texas Engineering Extension Service, has provided training and planning sessions for manmade and natural events to more than 7,500 jurisdictions in the United States on behalf on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It recently began offering its services to corporate entities.
October 1, 2006
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