Today I had the pleasure of delivering a disaster preparedness presentation to some of the employees at Ashland Inc. www.ashland.com We were invited by Kim Nutt, the Portland plant’s head of safety and environment. She is highly committed to disaster preparedness in her personal life, and her passion has spilled over into her work life in the best way possible. She is one person propelling the mission of holistic safety and, in my mind, is an example to companies everywhere.
My presentation was during the lunch hour; after the attendees had finished their meals and returned to work, she offered me lunch (which included oysters she had harvested and smoked for the luncheon – so good!) As I ate, we talked about what she is trying to accomplish at Ashland. Nearing retirement, her dream is to leave behind a culture of preparedness, including empowered employees and a store of disaster supplies – She wants enough to last her staff a week if needed.
Still more amazing was her vision and concern for the community at large. Just one example is the work she’s doing to procure a ham radio and license for the plant. The idea is that if a disaster were to occur and the plant lost power or was compromised structurally, the employees could communicate the real-time developments with authorities.
As Kim spoke, my mind went to the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan which resulted from the March earthquakes. I know it could happen here. Ashland processes a variety of potentially hazardous chemicals every day. They are located along Hwy 30, on central rail lines and not far off of the Willamette River. The work Kim is doing could save millions of dollars in post disaster cleanup and save thousands of lives.
I wonder, does Ashland Inc. recognize the work Kim is doing? What are they doing to help her, and what is their commitment to disaster preparedness in other parts of the world? There are many other industries like Ashland all over the city, processing or using hazardous materials. What are they doing to protect their employees and the surrounding community?
If you know of a corporation or group of any kind who would like disaster preparedness information, please contact the American Red Cross. We have free, interactive lessons to facilitate learning about preparedness. You can schedule one by clicking here.