Effective crisis management depends on good judgment, good information, effective preplanning, and luck. Three out of these four elements can be affected before a catastrophic event occurs. If successful strategies are used for the first three elements, they greatly influence the fourth. This paper discusses these three areas against the backdrop of a crisis. Of these, first and foremost is judgment. In normal decision making, many errors in judgment occur. These errors are greatly accelerated during a crisis event. We will examine how being aware of these errors can facilitate an efficient and effective response. Another characteristic of crises, especially in the early hours, is lack of information. Ambiguity overlies initial actions as the emergency unfolds and sometimes escalates uncontrollably. Crisis management includes defining information needs, dealing with short time frames and only a few hard facts, coping with pressure from inside and outside, eliminating destructive reaction patterns, and firmly deciding on and executing a plan for recovery. Lastly, this paper examines crisis in relation to contingency planning. There is little that can be done after an emergency that has not been thought about before the event. Preplanning must be part of any integrated system for emergencies. Dealing with “crises” begins with handling day-to-day procedures, identifying the best practices, developing the “what if's” within contingency planning, and exercising as a continuous process system.

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