Code Red on Board

July 5, 2016By Views

by Dave Wendland, as seen in HealthCare Distributor magazine, Out of the Box column

May/June 2016

On a recent trip to Dallas, about forty-five minutes into the flight, the attendants announced, "Code Red in the back." It was followed by a call to passengers for anyone onboard who was a doctor or nurse to please immediately join the crew in the back of the plane.

What followed was a calm and serene scene where two individuals gracefully raised their hands and purposefully made their way toward the unfolding medical situation. Their faces were comforting — not panicking — and their movements intentional but not hurried. Although I am neither exactly sure of the circumstances of the ordeal nor was I near enough to observe the care being provided (likely a very good thing since I’m not necessarily known for maintaining my composure under certain medical situations…exposed wounds in particular), I observed stillness on the plane. Passengers remained seated and didn’t stretch their necks to catch a glimpse. Flight attendants halted service in the aisles but otherwise remained in their designated areas. The plane maintained its course and the sun continued to shine through the porthole windows.

My question as it relates to business is this, "How would you and your team react if there was a ‘Code Red’ in your company? When you formulate your answer do not limit your thinking to an individual’s health-related emergency, rather broaden your thoughts to include a supply chain disruption, financial crisis, loss of a key customer, or any number of other business concerns.

Do you believe your team would respond calmly and purposefully? If the first reaction to a Code Red is panic or fear, then is it really possible to rationally deal with the situation and develop an effective strategy to overcome it? If your first reaction is to ignore it or dismiss it as somebody else’s responsibility, is it possible to work collaboratively?

Unforeseen events are the nature of business today — of life today. There is little opportunity to prepare a Plan B for every imaginable emergency. The key is in the reaction, not in the canned response. Employing a strategy to manage responses to such circumstances is critical. And it starts with the organization’s leadership.

Exhibiting a calm confidence from the top down is immeasurably more important than pulling out an emergency manual that has a canned response to every situation. I am convinced organizations that encounter unforeseen emergencies — and no-one is immune — must begin with a calm assessment of the situation. Only then can the company develop an appropriate strategy and action plan for the particular circumstance. It is this initial thoughtful response that will lead to a better outcome.

Our flight continued on its way to Dallas and as a result of the calm response exhibited by the healthcare professionals onboard and the confidence that the passengers and crew maintained, the situation was "under control." I witnessed firsthand how unforeseen events can be masterfully handled in midair. Is your company and team truly ready for your next Code Red?