The following is excerpted from a presentation by Dan Ludwig, Senior Vice President of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Management for DHL Americas at a US Chamber of Commerce meeting targeting the 2006 Hurricane Season. The event was held on July 13, 2006 in Washington, DC.

Editor’s note: (Dan Ludwig is Senior Vice President of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Management for DHL Americas. In this role, Ludwig is responsible for providing corporate leadership, strategy and execution for the DHL response to major disaster events in the Americas. The DHL Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Management office coordinates all DHL emergency management efforts throughout the Americas region and across business units.

Ludwig leads a team responsible for providing direction and support across business units for DHL planning, preparation and response to all emergencies, including natural disasters. In this position, he will work closely with government organizations and DHL partners, including the United Nations and local civil entities, on emergency planning and response.

Ludwig also maintains regional oversight for the DHL Disaster Response Team (DRT) Americas, which will provide logistical support to help governments organize the handling, warehousing and loading of relief goods for onward transportation in the Americas region.)

Overall, I’d like to address two areas:

1) Lessons learned from last year which are areas of focus for this year

2) Humanitarian efforts as part of our strategy

In the aftermath of last year, everyone is performing a ‘gut-check’ with regard to one’s own preparedness. DHL is no different in this regard as we are focused on improvement of our overall Emergency Management Program, which is founded on a four-part architecture including: Plan, Prepare, Respond and Recover.

1) Plan ’ involves strengthening Business Continuity Plans and identifying business-critical resources including People, Physical Assets, Systems and Communication. At DHL, BCP’s exist in each business unit (DHL Express, Global Forwarding, Logistics Solutions and Mail), but there’s an opportunity for alignment and consistency across the organization, which is a critical part of the new emergency management function we created.

2) Prepare ’ involves testing the adequacy of the plans thru process tools such as tabletop exercises and site audits, particularly around specific disaster scenarios. A Critical Success Factor is the matching of resources to the severity of the event ’ if this gets out of balance either way, then we’ve failed. Too much resource is inefficient, while not enough resource can be disastrous.

Plans must be adaptable and scaleable to the type, severity and location of the disaster. Securing the necessary resources is critical such as labor contingencies, being able to deploy fly-ins or contract labor. Also, deployable generators and fuel for power continuity is vital as well as mobile satellite units for voice and data.

This year, we’ve done a lot with internal communication campaigns for better employee training, awareness and preparedness:

  • Produced DVD’s with useful info to prepare employees for themselves and their families.
  • Held employee training sessions with participation from local government for local instructions.
  • Invited vendors to participate offering employee discounts on hurricane supplies such as generators, etc.
  • Established an Emergency Hotline and distributed wallet cards
  • Encouraged Employees to take advantage of Payroll Direct Deposit and to update their personnel info in our HR systems
  • Established a network of Emergency Captains trained in CPR, First Aid and evacuation procedures.

3) Respond ’ Like most companies, we take a multifunctional command center approach toward managing during a disaster. In a large global business, there may be several command centers bei