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In the midst of a crisis, one of the most important skills to have is the ability to make a decision, says Donna Tona, a disaster management expert.
“Folks have to be taught, trained, and supported to handle a crisis. You can’t run away from it,” Tona tells the CUNA News Podcast. “We’re running away from things and we talk about making decisions, but we [often] don’t.”
Tona, vice president of client experience at Werkz, Inc., specializes in emergency trauma management, and assists municipalities, governments, and businesses with crisis incidents. She also works with organizations to develop training exercises to prepare before a crisis happens.
She has assisted at a variety of crises, including assisting credit union employees after the bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, providing assistance during ice storms in her home province of Alberta, Canada, and providing support after the September 11 attack and World Trade Center collapse.
Regardless of the type of crisis, Tona says admitting a crisis is taking place is the first step toward acknowledging it and facing the crisis head-on.
Making a decision—such as asking for a glass of water or providing volunteers with a pre-determined food list—gives someone who has been through a crisis situation a sense of control.
“Little things give people purpose,” Tona says. “Decision making is purposeful. We’re gently forcing them to make a decision, but it gets you more stable.”
During the CUNA News Podcast episode, Tona discusses how to prepare for and respond to a crisis, and how the response efforts during Hurricane Harvey in Texas has showcased crisis management skills and credit unions' people-helping-people philosophy.