911 Consulting plans for all
It’s been 15 years since resident Bo Mitchell founded 911 Consulting, and 15 years in, he’s yet to have encountered any direct competitors.
In a word, 911 Consulting, headquartered in Wilton, is a firm that provides emergency preparedness services, training, and drills and exercises for organizations of all types and sizes.
According to Mitchell, though 99% of United States employers fail to comply, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that each keep an encompassing emergency action and response plan, developed and designed to address all possible types of hazard.
While there are various consulting firms that create specialized plans for specific types of hazard, such as fire-related or medical emergencies, Mitchell said he’s in the “all-hazards business,” and if you find a similar service, to let him know.
“I have clients and prospects ask me all the time, ‘Are there other people who do what you do?’” Mitchell said. “I say, ‘If you find them, tell me, so we can work together to do a better job — because I haven’t found any yet.”
Mitchell added that while there are firms that provide the overarching plan, they don’t train the employers and employees on how to follow it.
“There’s a lot of consultants out there who will come do the assessment and then leave you,” he said. “I do the assessment, but I don’t walk away. I write the plan, and then take you through it to completion, and train your employees.”
“We’re end-to-end, as far as our service offering is concerned,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell, who has lived in Wilton since 1970, was a police commissioner here for 16 years before resigning in February 2001 to found 911 consulting.
He also served five years in the U.S. Army Reserve, and has been a constable in Wilton since he left the police commission.
“I started with my experiences on the Police Commission,” Mitchell said. “I would read police reports of emergencies at businesses or whatever kinds of workplaces. The victims would almost always be quoted as having said, ‘This should not have happened to me.’”
Mitchell’s interest in emergency preparedness was cemented into a career when his wife, who now actively participates in her husband’s business, found herself in an emergency.
“She was working for an organization, and had for a number of years — they didn’t have a plan. They didn’t train anybody.”
“She looked up and started seeing gray smoke coming from the ceiling. She walked out of her office and said, ‘What’s all that?’ Everybody looked around, and there was no response.”
Mitchell’s wife got out safely, and learned the next day the smoke she saw had come from a kitchen fire in the building where she worked. “She got out, but the next day, nobody seemed to have any response, and this is typical,” Mitchell said.
“That my wife was in that situation confirmed all the other things that I’d been involved with, and thus made me start my company.”
In the years that have transpired, Mitchell and 911 Consulting have created emergency plans and provided emergency training and exercises for a list of organizations that includes GE headquarters, Health Net, Cablevision, Goodrich, and Western Connecticut State University.
But “things happened slowly,” Mitchell said. “You have to go out there and make sure everybody knows who you are and learn how to sell to them. And if people don’t even know they need what you’re offering, that’s an added obstacle.”
According to Mitchell, there is a cultural phenomenon in the United States where employers don’t think emergencies can affect them.
“Generally speaking, in America, corporations, campuses, medical facilities — they think these things will never happen to them. It’s a cultural issue,” he said. “They’re all in denial.”
The emergency plans that 911 Consulting develops encompass action and response plans for emergencies that involve active shooters, bomb threats, and the like. But according to Mitchell, the improper handling of less extreme emergencies can also expose employers, and that’s why 911 Consulting’s service covers everything.
“Let’s say I come into your office, and go into cardiac arrest,” Mitchell said. “Most companies have no plan for dealing with that.
“You may think, ‘I watch TV; I know what to do.’ That’s not a plan. You may hesitate. I may tell you not to call 911 because I’m embarrassed. I may try to get into my own car and drive myself to a doctor or the ER. All of those responses are wrong, and potentially expose your operation to lawsuit.”
“The employer has a duty of care, to keep everybody on their premises safe, whether it’s a contractor, the cleaning crew at night, an employee, or a visitor.”
911 Consulting serves clients headquartered from Boston to Los Angeles, working in its facilities from London to San Francisco. Over the last 15 years, the firm has dealt with almost 200 organizations, Mitchell said.
In addition to developing emergency plans and providing training for organizations, Mitchell travels, gives talks, and does webinars. He does an in-person presentation once a week, and a webinar once every two weeks.