MEF Unveils Marin Business Emergency Readiness (M’BER) Program

By Garry Lion, MEF Executive Committee, Marin Disaster Council, Mill Valley Vice Mayor 

The Marin Business Emergency Readiness (M’BER for short, pronounced em-ber) program is designed to help Marin County businesses (for-profit or not-for-profit) to better prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies/disasters (e.g., fires, floods, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, pandemics, etc.). It was developed in conjunction with the Marin Disaster Council (aka Marin DC3) to improve disaster preparedness in the local business community. This program is intended to benefit the ~12,000 payroll employers (with ~110,000 employees) as well as the ~38,000 sole proprietorships in Marin.

A number of disaster studies have concluded that a significant percentage of small businesses impacted by a natural or man-made disaster cannot stay open after the disaster and eventually fail. Those that have planned ahead for potential disasters, however, have a higher rate of staying open to serve their customers and employees after the disaster and of eventually surviving. The M’BER program helps businesses think through the important steps in preparing for the types of disaster to which they are most vulnerable and then build a customized Emergency Plan to ensure their continuity of operations and long-term survival.

The M’BER program starts with an assessment of a business’ vulnerabilities and an evaluation of steps already taken to protect it. This is accomplished through an American Red Cross (ARC) website called Ready Ratingwhich provides a numerical readiness score and suggests what further steps should be done. Working with their local em

ergency aid jurisdiction (e.g., fire department), a business owner/manager can create an Emergency Plan (a fill-in-the-answers template is downloaded on his/her business computer) which documents preparatory steps taken, actions to be undertaken when a disaster occurs, and follow-on steps to ensure continuity of operations. The template includes pop-up Help Screens easily accessible whenever the preparer needs assistance in understanding the concepts or their rationale. The resulting Emergency Plan (at any stage of development) can be distributed to the business’ employees for use during a disaster and to the emergency jurisdiction for review and feedback. Jurisdictions should provide Certificates of Readiness (based on the improved ARC Ready Rating readiness scores) to participating businesses to acknowledge their improved emergency preparedness.

The M’BER program was developed and pilot tested in Mill Valley with 22 businesses over the last couple of years and was recently reformatted for a county-wide roll-out. Beginning this fall, DC3 and MEF personnel will be introducing the program to local emergency jurisdictions in Marin and training their personnel to support the program. Those jurisdictions with the highest degree of interest will likely be the first to launch. Let your local emergency jurisdiction know if your business is interested!