Business Owners Learn Emergency Preparedness

Business Owners Learn Emergency Preparedness

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Sammy Linebaugh reporting More than 300 Utah business owners are getting schooled in emergency preparedness.

Renee Murphy/Div. of Homeland Security Private Sector Liaison: "They're nervous. They don't know what they would do. They hadn't thought it through even to the simplest form past the first aid kit and a fire extinguisher."

At 8:00 this morning a statewide business preparedness conference gets underway at the Radison Hotel in downtown Salt Lake.

Obviously this is something state and city officials, among others, are taking very seriously.

Governor Jon Huntsman will open the conference with introductions of the newly formed Homeland Security Advisory Council here in Utah, with a focus on the private sector.

Today, presenters from state and local offices and disaster preparedness experts will use video simulations, and spend the day with local business owners running through "what if" scenarios.

Organizers hope this is the first of many steps toward a more coordinated public/private partnership this new localized homeland security advisor council will oversee.

The conference was planned long before Hurricane Katrina hit. Before Katrina, the conference was at less than half capacity. Now, business owners are being turned away because the conference rooms are full.

The main goal, organizers say, is to get business owners to prepare for every possibility.

Renee Murphy/ Div. of Homeland Security Private Sector Liaison: "Who they call next. Who their landlords are. Who their accountants are. Where are their critical documents."

Ken Kraudy/ Sandy City Emerg. Preparedness Coord.: "The public can't do it by itself and the private can't do it by itself."

Ken Kraudy coordinates Sandy City's emergency preparedness. He'll be at the conference to talk about a recent mock disaster senario his city did at the South Towne Mall, where about 50 business owners and city officials took part in a simulated emergency situation. Today, Layton Hills mall is doing something very similar.

So a lot of businesses and public officials are already thinking prevention. Today, the goal is to get those who haven't really thought about it seriously, on board with a strategy, and to get down to the details of, if "X" disaster happens, what do I do to protect my business and my employees, the best I can?

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