In a few of my previous blogs (‘Fit for the job?‘, ‘In the limelight‘, ‘Mid-life crisis management‘ and ‘A team effort‘) I’ve mentioned that I’m a re-invigorated hockey player, having been dragged kicking and screaming back into the sport by my sons a few years ago. In fairness, ‘re-invigorated’ is my word for it – some of my so-called team-mates have been known to use other words but, after all, this is my blog not theirs!
Like many sports, hockey has its risks and, unfortunately we’ve had a few injuries within the club recently, including a couple of bashed heads, a broken thumb and some lost teeth. My own personal injury tally seems to grow by the week, but I’ll save that for another blog. Anyway, the lost teeth incident reminded me of another one, a bit closer to home, that happened during a match a couple of seasons ago.
Things were going quite well until, about 15 minutes into the first half there was a rather unfortunate incident. Two of our players – one of my sons and a slightly larger chap – went, with great determination but, unfortunately with no audible call, for the same ball. I looked on helplessly as they collided with each other and ended up in a crumpled heap on the ground.
Then I realised that all was not well. The first subtle clue was the fact that my son stayed on the ground. The second was the blood he was spitting out. It turned out that, because of the difference in their heights, my son had managed to get a mouthful of shoulder for his trouble and, as a result, his braces were broken and one of his teeth was at a somewhat jauntier angle than was previously the case.
To cut a long story short, rather than enjoying the anticipated Saturday afternoon run-around on a hockey pitch, the two of us spent a thrilling two hours in the Accident and Emergency department of the local hospital, only to be told by the doctor on duty “I don’t know much about teeth – I suggest you go and see your dentist tomorrow”!
My son has since had quite a lot of treatment on the affected tooth, including a root filling, but at least it’s still in his mouth and back in the position that it should be in. Luckily, his braces and his gum-shield prevented what could have been a far worse injury, as without them he’d have lost at least one tooth and possibly several.
When I reflected on the experience later with my business continuity head on a couple of things came to mind.
Firstly, it brought home to me the fact that incidents and accidents, disasters and crises have a nasty habit of happening suddenly, unexpectedly, completely out of the blue and can turn our world upside down in an instant. And often the consequences are far worse, and far more traumatic, than a displaced tooth.
So we need to be able to respond. We need people who can be calm in a crisis. We need people who are adequately trained and sufficiently experienced. We need people who know what to do and who are actually able to do it when required.
Secondly, it reminded me of the importance of risk mitigation measures. In this case the gum shield that prevented a far worse injury than it could have been. But it also reminded me that there are people who ignore our mitigation measures, however well planned or diligently implemented. The lad who recently lost several teeth wasn’t wearing a gumshield, despite being advised to – presumably he thought he knew better and/or it wouldn’t happen to him.
Thankfully the experience hasn’t put my son off playing hockey and the three Osborne males still turn out regularly on a Saturday. Doubtless there will be other mishaps and injuries in the future, but fingers crossed they won’t be too serious. Either way, it’s almost certain that they’ll come out of the blue without any warning, so we just need to be as prepared as we can be.
Andy Osborne (known as Oz to friends and colleagues) is the Consultancy Director at Acumen, a consultancy practice specialising in business continuity and risk management.
Andy is the author of two books ‘Practical Business Continuity Management‘ and ‘Risk Management Simplified‘ as well as his popular blogs and ‘Tips of the Month’, all of which aim to demystify the subjects of business continuity and risk management and make them more accessible to people who live in the real world.
You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AndyatAcumen and link with him on LinkedIn at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/andyosborneatacumen