They say hindsight is 20/20.  That is the case when evaluating the effectiveness of how prepared a company or government agency was when dealing with a disaster scenario.

This past week Sheriff Kory Honea of Butte County here in Northern California decided to evacuate almost 200,000 people who would have been in the immediate path of a 30-foot wall of water if the Oroville Dam had failed. Listening to his press conference after ordering the evacuation it was obvious that this was an easy decision for him. There was no way he was going to take a chance that many of his friends and neighbors could be subjected to a deadly situation. It would not have been as devastating as the Tsunami in Malaysia in 2004, but it could have caused far more loss of life than Hurricane Katrina or any other disaster event in U.S. History.

For the record, let me say that Sheriff Honea and all the other personnel and agencies involved did a fantastic job when faced with a potential emergency of epic proportions. With more rain on the way this is an evolving situation that could become dangerous again quickly. This should have gotten the attention of many other agencies and organizations around the country and have them thinking “what if” in regards to potential disaster scenarios that their communities could be subjected to unexpectedly.

Related: The Fury of the Storm: Win the Fight


Have a Plan

It is understood that companies, organizations, and government agencies should have exhaustive, detailed plans for any number of potential threats and natural disaster scenarios. When disaster strikes is too late. In an emergency, equipment and personnel will be stressed and pushed to the maximum. Having a plan allows people to take a deep breath and rely on their training to continue on to the business of saving lives and property. Our first responders are true heroes. They deserve to have the best leadership and resources to get the job done under difficult situations.

X2nSat Mobile Command Center

Having the right equipment available in your emergency toolbox can make all the difference as well. If there had been a major failure to the spillway or the dam, critical power and communications infrastructure would have been heavily compromised. X2nSat’s emergency response trailers can be quickly deployed to provide satellite connectivity to local, regional, and national wireline numbers as well as act as a repeater for hand-held radio terminals. These portable, self-contained satellite terminals can run continuously for two weeks without refueling, and provide a vital link for voice and data communications in emergency scenarios.

Related: Aliens, Earthquakes, and Zombies: A Tale of Redundancy


Test the Plan

We all know how the best laid plans in our everyday lives can easily get thrown off-track. One can only imagine all the possible ways something can go wrong in the middle of a disaster scenario. Many agencies and communities will hold disaster readiness drills to give all the coordinating resources the opportunity to mobilize and put the plan to the test. This gives all stakeholders an opportunity to identify potential shortfalls in contingency plans and shore them up. I am sure Sheriff Honea and the agencies involved are doing careful evaluation of how their teams executed and their equipment performed when a major catastrophe was looming. I have no doubt they will be even more ready next time.

Related: Business as Usual


Update the Plan

Conditions change all the time. Just because you have a great plan that seemed more than adequate 3 years ago, it does not mean that there are not new threats that need to be accounted for now. Disaster contingency plans should be updated at least once a year or anytime significant shortcomings in the plan have been identified, or when new technology becomes available.

Hope is never a good strategy when trying to protect lives and mitigate the loss of property damage. There is no substitute for preparedness and practicing the execution of a plan and having the right tools to respond. Everyone here at X2nSat is proud to be able to provide so many companies and agencies with communications capabilities that perform under the worst disaster scenarios and allow our brave first responders to perform their jobs and return home safely to their families.


Contact us anytime for a complete evaluation of the communications systems in your emergency toolbox regarding disaster preparedness.

About the Author

As CEO and founder, Mr. Hill guides the vision and cutting-edge culture of X2nSat, one of the most veteran VSAT providers in North America. In 1996, he founded this forward-thinking satellite communications company with a mission to provide highly reliable, wireless network and communication solutions to a variety of North American industries.