We Were Not Found Wanting

The management of risks is easy in the good times.

It is in the moment of great stress that the quality and robustness of a risk management framework is most severely tested.

We were reminded of this late last year upon reading an article to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The article focused on the actions of the Parkland Memorial Hospital in the days immediately following that horrendous event.

What caught our eye was this note from Charles Price, the then Administrator of the Hospital.

He wrote:

Office Memorandum
November 27, 1963

To: All Employees

At 12:38 p.m., Friday, November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy and Texas’ Governor John Connally were brought to the Emergency Room of Parkland Memorial Hospital after being struck down by the bullets of an assassin.

At 1:07 p.m., Sunday, November 24, 1963, Lee. H. Oswald, accused assassin of the late president, died in an operating room of Parkland Memorial Hospital after being shot by a bystander in the basement of Dallas’ City Hall. In the intervening 48 hours and 31 minutes Parkland Memorial Hospital had:

1. Become the temporary seat of the government of the United States.

2. Become the temporary seat of the government of the State of Texas.

3. Become the site of the death of the 35th President.

4. Become the site of the ascendency of the 36th President.

5. Become site of the death of President Kennedy’s accused assassin.

6. Twice become the center of the attention of the world.

7. Continued to function at close to normal pace as a large charity hospital.

What is it that enables an institution to take in stride such a series of history jolting events?

Spirit? Dedication? Preparedness?

Certainly, all of these are important, but the underlying factor is people.

People whose education and training is sound. People whose judgement is calm and perceptive. People whose actions are deliberate and definitive.

Our pride is not that we were swept up by the whirlwind of tragic history, but that when we were, we were not found wanting.


C. J. Price

What we found fascinating is that Price focused on the strength of the education and training of the Parkland staff.

Whilst his intentions were without doubt otherwise focused, Price has managed to perfectly articulate the most essential element of any risk management or crisis management framework.

That is – those that have a job to do know what to do and do it well.



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