On September 20th, 2017, the fifth-strongest storm to ever hit the United States struck Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria left 100% of the island without power, damaged or destroyed 80% of homes, and knocked out 85% of the cell towers on the island. Medtronic would be facing not just an operational crisis, as our thousands of employees on the island would also be facing a humanitarian one. As the storm approached we developed a dedicated communications effort to account for the wellbeing of all employees and keep our many interested stakeholder groups informed with the latest humanitarian and operational information.
This program was created in response to a relatively sudden event – Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, became the most powerful hurricane in 80 years to make landfall on Puerto Rico. With a presence in Puerto Rico since 1974, Medtronic is the island's largest private employer, with 5,000 employees spread across five locations in Ponce, Villalba, Catano, Juncos and Humacao. All four of our business groups have some degree of manufacturing on the island. As the storm approached, Medtronic launched its business continuity plans which included taking the following steps:
- Communications team began working with the Medtronic Global Command Center, our dedicated emergency response hub for tracking global events, security and employee whereabouts (see Addendum 1). The Command Center staff are able to provide regular updates as to the likely severity of the storm and its impact to employees and operations.
- Identified list of key internal and external stakeholders that would require communication and outreach (global employees, customers, regulatory bodies, suppliers, investors, media).
- Satellite phones were procured and distributed in the event of power outage, and we established a schedule for receiving regular updates.