PROs play a hugely important role in servicing areas affected by natural disasters. Portable sanitation is one of the basic needs that can be difficult to find in these situations. Survivors, as well as aid and supply workers, appreciate being able to use the restroom and wash their hands.
If you hear of an extreme weather event approaching your service area, make sure you remove all your units from danger. You won’t be able to provide any service if your units become unusable, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Once the coast is clear, get them back out in the field ASAP.
Make sure you have dedicated staff, including temporary staff if necessary, who can put in long shifts on short notice. Likewise, ensure you have access to plenty of units, as firefighters and disaster relief workers often set up camps that can be quite substantial in size, and they will need toilets, hand-washing facilities, and sometimes showers.
Be on call 24/7. Many PROs miss the opportunity to work after a disaster simply by missing phone calls in the middle of the night. Emergency relief bodies will just skip to the next company on their list.
Government agencies are the most involved after disasters. Get yourself on the list of preferred vendors for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) if you can. Contact state fire departments, as well as municipal and city boards, and find out if they have similar lists.
If you operate near places affected by forest fires, contact the U.S. Forest Service. You can also contact local power companies, as they also set up camps in the aftermath of disasters while they reconnect power lines.
Not all disasters require the same response. For example, with fire relief efforts, you will probably have to service your units more often because the heat can easily lead to bacteria growth in wastewater. It will be necessary to dump your waste often.
Figure out if there are any site access issues, as well as potential terrain difficulties, by scoping out the area before sending a fleet in. If power supplies are down, use cell phones and write purchase orders by hand.
Never forget that you are providing a vital service after a disaster, and one that is highly appreciated by those in need. Your skills are valuable, so use them as best you can, even if that means putting in long hours. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile. Some PROs give out supplies like water and have even been known to organize barbecues, pizzas, or potlucks for survivors and staff. How you respond to a disaster will show what kind of company you are and whether or not you can be depended on in future.
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