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Ken Fall, Deseret News
Fit Well Prosthetic and Orthotic Center, which manufactures artificial limbs and braces, has created an emergency plan to be better prepared for disasters.

SALT LAKE CITY — As nearly a dozen businesses in Santa Clara recently realized when they were flooded by walls of mud and water, disasters can happen at any time.

Whether it's flooding, wildfires or earthquakes, businesses — big and small — need to have a plan in place to get them back on their feet should disaster strike.

One Salt Lake company has created an emergency plan for such events — a plan that outlines everything from backing up patient data records, having the right kind of insurance and, perhaps most important, finding alternate locations.

Fit Well Prosthetic and Orthotic Center manufactures and fits artificial limbs and braces that allow its patients to live more active and productive lives. There are thousands of patient records stored at its facility, too.

In an instant, it could all be gone, or at least temporarily shut down. That's a scenario the executives at Fit Well want no part of.

“Say there's an earthquake or some natural disaster and they need to come in and have their prosthesis worked on," said Scott Allen, owner of Fit Well. "If we're not here to be able to provide services for them, it not only affects us as employees, but the patients as well."

Fit Well worked with Tony Wilde of the Utah Division of Emergency Management. From Wilde's perspective, most Utah businesses aren't ready for disasters. Moreover, they don't think an emergency plan is a worthwhile cost, he said.

It's not about preparing for the huge devastating earthquake, he said. It's the small interrupters like power outages or water line breaks that could be costly.

“As far as for companies, being out of business for 72 hours is a world of hurt. You lose data, you lose customer contacts, you lose credibility," Wilde said.

Forty-five percent of businesses that get hit by a disaster never reopen, Wilde said. And of those that do, many fail within two years. Having an emergency plan can improve the odds of a business surviving, and maybe peace of mind.

"The best thing is a plan," Allen said. "To have a plan so you know what to do so you don't have to be running around scared, not knowing."

"Part of what we want to do is plan for the contingencies where we have be somewhere else, still doing our job, maybe not getting it done as quickly and easily as we do now, but still be able to get our job done," said Tim Bachman, a certified prosthetist, and the man who's putting together Fit Well's emergency plan.

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"I feel we're more prepared than we were," he said. "We are not a prepared as we'd like to be."

Bachman said the company has hard drives that it swaps out and puts in different locations, so the data are safe, up to date and well-maintained.

The emergency plan is an ongoing process, he said. “Every time we solve a problem and discuss how that problem has been solved and how it’s going to help further our business if there is a problem, we discovered that there are other things that we probably should take into account,” he said.

E-mail: kmccord@ksl.com