One of Paul Stull’s first assignments at Arizona State Credit Union underscores the organization’s philosophy on disaster relief efforts.
Eight years ago, with a wildfire raging outside the vacation destination of Sedona, Ariz., CEO Dave Doss called Stull into his office and told his vice president of marketing to make the two-hour drive from Phoenix to resupply the rescue workers there.
“I went to the grocery store, filled up two carts with water, sunscreen, and other items, and took them over to the fire crews camping on the highschool athletic field,” Stull recalls.
No one could foresee the tragedy that struck the region this summer, when 19 elite firefighters—including six Arizona State Credit Union members, and one former member— were killed while battling the Yarnell Hill Blaze.
Yet once more, the $1.4 billion asset credit union in Phoenix, Ariz., moved quickly to assist as many affected people as possible, thanks to a disaster relief plan effectively communicated to staff and public.
Spouses and family of the deceased Granite Mountain Hotshots members received 90-day extensions on loan payments, a promise to rewrite existing loans at a 1% interest rate, the ability to withdraw share certificates without penalty, and access to emergency loans at low interest rates.
Arizona State Credit Union also set up a donation fund, presenting $184,000 to the Hotshots, including a matching pledge of $20,000.
With staff torn apart emotionally at the loss of these members, the credit union arranged for counselors to aid employees, and closed the offices during a memorial service for the victims. Doss and Stull visited area branches personally.
“The best time to create these plans is when you don’t have an emergency—when you can sit down and talk through what you can do, put together policies and procedures, and research what would be needed most quickly,” Stull says.