IFMA Boston

Boston Area Facility Managers Respond “on the Fly” to Disaster Scenarios

Long recognized as one of the most active and progressive chapters of the International Facility Managers Association, IFMA Boston seeks member input for its education focus. “Security and safety were high on their list, as were human and environmental factors,” said Kate Thibeault, VP of education for IFMA Boston, “so we wanted a session that would address these concerns and enable facility managers (FMs) to improve their disaster plans.”

The Attainium program was highly recommended to IFMA and “the session sounded interesting and exciting,” Thibeault said. “We deal with these issues on a daily basis, and it’s nice to put some pizzazz into the training.” Attainium worked with IFMA to create the scenarios customized for the Boston-area FMs and used in the training session. “I knew people would have their eyes opened, as many hadn’t experienced a real disaster. The session also gave participants who had experienced disasters in the past or had been exercising their plans regularly the chance to review.”

Approximately 90 FMs, crisis management team members, and Wentworth Facilities Management students attended the session, which was offered at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Attendees worked in groups, selected their roles, and responded to the realistic emergency situations as they were rolled out. “We wanted a big enough disaster to really challenge the group,” she said, “and the training accomplished our goals; it was great.”

Bob Mellinger, president and CEO of Attainium Corp and the session presenter, has worked with FMs all over the country, and is attuned to the challenges and stresses they face on the job. “You never know what will happen on any given day,” Mellinger said. “Each building and each tenant has its own potential for disaster, and you just have to be prepared. The Disaster Experience is geared toward addressing the unpredictability with thorough planning and developing the ability to respond rapidly and effectively.”

“The learning from the session is extremely helpful,” said Judylynn Monaco, a project manager with Fresenius Medical Care. “Bob is a great presenter, and it was a very valuable experience and exciting, too.” Monaco enjoyed the teamwork aspect of the session, gaining insight from the various participants’ contributions to solving problems as they occurred.

“The problems and information presented were quite realistic,” said Chuck Houy, project director for Fox Relocation Management Corp. “All of us on my team (other Fox employees) felt we were doing a worthwhile thing and were getting ‘real-life’ experience. The team came together pretty fast, and that was reassuring.”

“Everyone really liked the way the scenarios rolled out,” Thibeault said. “It was like real emergency situations, except no one was running around with their heads off. Bob did a great job, and we plan to do this again in the future.”

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