The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been one of the most prolific on record. With 28 named storms, including five major hurricanes, its intensity is unsurpassed. And it’s not over yet.
Stericycle’s customers along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are among those who may be impacted by these dangerous and unpredictable storms. Since hospitals and health systems must remain operational regardless of the weather, plans must be put in place to address their continuing waste management needs, even during a crisis. It’s essential that these health providers partner with a company that can flex resources to meet these critical needs.
How Stericycle Prepares for Hurricane Season
We actively monitor inclement weather and watch for alerts from state agencies and local governments. Managers from our potentially impacted facilities collaborate with our Environmental Health and Safety team to closely monitor a storm’s progress. Since hurricanes can change course and severity literally overnight, it is critical that we have eyes on what’s occurring and be ready to adapt our response accordingly.
Activate Emergency Response Plans
Depending on the category of the storm, its trajectory, and predicted effects, the Environmental Health and Safety team will decide whether or not to activate our emergency management plans. These are detailed blueprints that describe how we prepare for, respond to, and recover from a range of emergencies, including hurricanes. More specifically, the plans outline how we should secure our buildings and their contents; maintain our clients’ business continuity; and safeguard team members, whether they are working in our facilities or at home.
Determine if the Facility Should Close
After activating our emergency response plans, we determine if a facility should close due to the storm’s potential threat. This decision is made by key stakeholders, including representatives from safety, business, operations, engineering, and sales. During the meeting, leaders talk through the impact to our customers and how we will help ensure their business continuity while protecting our staff and facilities. Depending on the situation, the group may decide to leverage our national network of facilities to help manage customer needs that can’t feasibly be met by the local branch.
Remain in Contact with Our Customers
In addition to robust internal communication, we remain accessible to our customers before, during, and after hurricanes, reaching out ahead of a storm via email to inform them of our plans. Our sales and/or customer service teams follow up with personal phone calls to share information and make sure we are aware of specific customer needs. We also put a service alert on our website to further build awareness of the emergency and our anticipated response.
Stericycle Expects the Unexpected
Due to the volatile nature of hurricanes, it is critical for our team to be prepared for anything. Those on the front lines are always thinking creatively about how to serve customers that can’t pause their operations.
Recently in Lake Charles, Louisiana, one of our drivers went above and beyond to complete a large order for a customer in desperate need of a priority pickup. After Hurricane Laura swept through town, the customer needed four times the usual amount of waste picked up. Our driver was able to pick up 200 boxes, instead of 50, and went on to complete the rest of his route, leaving all his customers satisfied even amidst this crisis.
That’s just one example of how we approach these ever-changing events. Our hurricane response is always evolving because every storm is different. We learn from each event and continue to refine our emergency preparedness program to ensure we provide the safest, most responsive service amid challenging dynamics.
Stericycle Can Help with Your Organization’s Medical Waste Management Needs
Regardless of severe weather or other events that might impact your business, you can count on Stericycle for your organization’s waste management needs. For more information about our waste management services, visit our Medical Waste Solutions hub.