We have a policy that we evacuate no matter what, so if there’s lightning within a certain proximity of the golf course, we clear it.
This year, we’ve had three tornado warnings and that’s not something we’re used to here. When you’re talking tornados, certainly in my case, it was uncharted waters because I’d never had to respond to that before.
You can’t just get people to shelters – you have to get them back to the clubhouse and you have to find a place where they can be safe. We have an area downstairs where we know they’re going to be safe, away from windows and doors.
Weather has changed so dramatically. When we get storms, it’s not the type of storms we’re used to – it’s violent.
We’ve been fortunate out here in that we’ve missed a lot of the hail that has hit parts of Calgary this year. One car I saw looked like it had been beaten with a hammer.
In some areas, the hail was enough to break windows on cars and the heavy winds caused trees to come down on vehicles and houses.
We have evacuation plans to deal with all types of emergencies. Our staff is very well trained and to their credit, they take it very seriously and now how to get people off the golf course quickly. That’s a lot of people on a lot of land, so preparation is so important.
We have a system of communication on the radio and we have the golf course divided into quadrants. We check people off on the list to get a head count.
The other thing is that it’s a fine line on when to react. You have to make sure your staff members are safe too and for that reason, we’re probably quicker to blow the horn because it’s better earlier than later and if people had to wait an hour, so be it.
We tweak our procedures and will again because when you’re dealing with high winds, tornados and lightning strikes, it’s dangerous and you have to respect nature. Such practices are no different than health and safety and HR policies, which we also regularly review.
We learned a lot from the flood a couple of years ago. We had never dealt with something like that and we did what we had to do, but we became aware of such issues as how do we get hold of people, how do we make this happen and do we do that?
Unfortunately, those types of lessons come out of disasters, but as bad as those events are, you don’t want to make them any worse by not being prepared for them.