Chilean SHRM Members Activate Emergency Teams

By Aliah D. Wright Mar 8, 2010

Chilean members of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) who were reached after a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile Feb. 27, 2010, were largely fine days after the quake.

Most of the Chilean SHRM members work in Santiago, Chile, the capital, which is about 300 miles from the quake’s epicenter.

“People and families in our organization are OK, and during the weekend [the quake struck] we sent our emergency response team to the most affected areas,” SHRM member Guillermo Calo told SHRM Online via e-mail. Calo works in Santiago and is the South American HR director for Barrick Gold Corp. “Obviously we all have a lot of cleaning to do, but [there were] no injuries or important losses to consider. We are now [concentrating on] helping the community and coordinating with the government to be more effective.”

He said the company’s airplanes were used by the government to provide assistance.

“We are doing OK, and fortunately we had only some material damage,” SHRM member Soledad Rovira, regional manager of human resources for Rio Tinto in Santiago, wrote via e-mail. She added that the “devastation is enormous” and that the real measure of damage is only starting to be unveiled.

In La Serena, Chile, human resources representative for AURA-Gemini Observatory Evelyn Cortes said, “fortunately our staff is fine and our organization is located a bit far away from the epicenterof the earthquake.”

Several other SHRM members in Chile reported being fine as well.

Experts say Chile will bounce back faster than Haiti, which suffered a devastating quake Jan. 12, 2010, in part because the Chilean epicenter was far from populous areas. Chile has better building codes, too. The earthquake that walloped central and southern Chile was considerably stronger—8.8 on the Richter scale, compared to 7.0 in Haiti. More than 230,000 are dead in Haiti; nearly 300 in Chile.

SHRM Vice President for Global Member Programs Brian J. Glade, SPHR, GPHR, told members in Chile via e-mail, “We are all following the news from Chile with great interest and concern. We know that there are many challenges that you are facing right now and that you have both personal and professional obligations, so we do not want to distract you from taking care of those issues,” he said. “As your professional organization, we have some resources that may help you address the crisis organizationally from a human resources point of view.”

Those resources include business continuity plans, disaster management plans and related toolkits.

“Please know that the entire SHRM staff and membership in the global community are with you during this time of great tragedy in your country. We hope that you, your families, and your colleagues are safe and secure. Our thoughts and prayers are sent to you in the hope that it is of some consolation and support,” he said.

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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