Michael Boyd, EMS Account Manager
Concordance Healthcare Solutions
Q: What preparations did and your customers you make in the days immediately preceding Harvey’s landfall on Aug 25?
A: Preparations on our side included sending numerous quotes to customers for needed supplies, specifically to the shelters and EMS departments. Supplies included over-the-counter medications, clothes, blankets and drinks (Pedialite, Ensure, etc.). Another delay was getting orders packaged and shipped via overnight by coordinating with FedEx, and other private delivery methods.
Q: What were you doing at the height of the storm?
A: Finding the most needed items and getting them to the end user as fast as possible. Once we depleted our stock at the closest warehouse, we pulled from another. We staggered the orders to have multiple small deliveries, based on need, spread out over the whole coast of Texas, specifically, San Antonio, Beaumont, etc. We had an emergency conference between our order department in Florida, warehouse manager in Louisiana, myself in Texas, and the vice president of our department, Rich Hawkins in St. Louis, to see how could best tackle the supply chain issues.
Q: Describe how the storm affected your company and your customers, and its immediate aftermath.
A: The storm struck the most crucial areas, which caused delays. The I-10 had multiple shut-downs from Beaumont through Houston, which caused issues when moving supplies from Baton Rouge to Texas. Our warehouse in Baton Rouge was on high alert from the storm. Our whole team worked late and came in early to help process orders in every part of our company. Our Florida office worked overtime completing orders; our warehouse employees picked and packaged orders, hours after they were to head home during the event. I coordinated with the shelters and EMS departments.
Q: What were your greatest challenges (and those of your customers) in the 7-10 days following the storm?
A: The greatest challenge my customers faced after the storm was finding long -term care for evacuees; the San Antonio shelters accepted over 2,000 people from Houston through the Port Aransas areas. This included keeping supplies, employees, and evacuees moving in a forward direction.
Q: Lessons learned, either for other suppliers or providers, should they face a natural catastrophe such as Harvey?
A: Increase your most common-used items during the volatile months to counter the possibility of hurricanes and other unforeseen events. That is a balancing act that requires constant movement due to the shelf life of each product. (The average expiration date accepted for most items is 24 months.) I am very proud of my entire division and I know how hard we all worked to band together in this time of need.