What I learned at this program was that only through practice and preparation for these types of events in advance will employees be prepared to speak with the media. People in our industry do not seek fame or the spotlight, and often, their first instinct is to keep their thoughts to themselves. Speaking to the media is not a skill that will come naturally to most in our industry. This program offered the chance to practice real-world scenarios to experience how to respond to the media in the event of a tragedy. Companies that handle fertilizers and agri-chemicals would be wise to consider attending any future programs ARA provides on this topic in light of the events that happened last week.
So, as the investigation goes on into what exactly happened at the West Fertilizer Company facility, keep in mind that your communities will be looking to your retail and fertilizer outlets to allay their fears that your facility could have a similar tragedy. The ag retail and fertilizer industries have an opportunity to educate the public at this time and provide reassurance that their employees are trained to handle these chemicals.
New laws and regulations will probably be discussed, and participation of those in our industry will be crucial in guiding discussions so that overbearing rules will not be applied unnecessarily.
In the mean time, our hearts and prayers are with the community of West, Texas, which was devastated by this terrible event.