Distributors Respond to New York, Washington Tragedies

Edition: October 2001 - Vol 9 Number 10
Article#: 1070
Author: Repertoire

September 17, 2001

To All Northeast Region Employees:

The tragic events of September 11th have galvanized us all like no other event in recent history. And while we watched the horror unfold before us on televisions across America, we question what each of us can do to make a difference in the efforts around search and rescue, recovery, and caring for those who are injured. There is no doubt in my mind that America will mobilize to meet these needs, but let me take this opportunity to tell you a little about what you and your company have already done. It is due to the efforts of each of you, and the sacrifices of your families, that we have been able to accomplish so much in the effort to insure that critically needed product was delivered to those in need.

Once the magnitude of the disaster became evident, emergency operations went into effect throughout the Northeast Region. Operations Centers were established in both [New Jersey] and the Northeast Distribution Center (NEDC) to insure consistent, timely, and accurate communications to and from our customers and suppliers. We immediately verified the safety of all of our employees, and tried to understand any personal impact this tragedy may have had on anyone. As we all know, few of us have not been touched in some way, some more personally than others.

As events became clear, the resolve of every employee was evident in everything that they did, and continue to do. Logistical plans were made with local authorities to establish methods to move critically needed products to those hospitals and areas that were designated to receive the injured. As we learned before long, this encompassed virtually every hospital from as far south as Monmouth, New Jersey to as far north and west as Rochester, New York. This also included triage centers set up in parks and open areas, such as Liberty Park in Jersey City. We also pre-positioned within the NEDC those supplies that we thought would be in greatest demand, like IV solutions. Within hours, our first trucks were rolling into New York City with police escorts to facilitate movement across the bridges and through the tunnels. These shipments were out of the NEDC, [New Jersey], and [Connecticut] facilities.

Recognizing that more needed to be done, we contracted to place helicopters adjacent to the NEDC, and began shipments of the most critically needed products to those customers with immediate needs. Two landing zones were established with the help of the local Fire Department, who also provided floodlight support for night operations. Coordination of this was made more difficult due to the grounding of all aircraft throughout North America. Life Guard status was quickly granted, and flights began before noontime. The New York State Police also offered assistance, and their helicopter was put into use. Throughout the day and into the night, we had as many as five helicopters flying emergency shipments to our customers.

With the logistics addressed, focus was turned to the increased demand on our internal operations. Demand for product was significant, and we were concerned about the impact the issues over the previous seven weeks would have on our employee's ability to maintain pace with that demand. Our concerns were quickly dismissed as our employees maintained pace, even when that demand was significantly greater than what was expected.

Inventory became our next concern, as it was critical that we establish coordination with our suppliers to replenish critically needed products. The Inventory and Operations Groups in [Illinois] immediately took control of the process, and our suppliers reacted with their direction. Now we needed to address the receiving process, as most of our efforts were focused on getting product out to our customers. Employees throughout all of Allegiance were volunteering their services, but getting people to the NEDC was difficult due to the air travel restrictions that existed. The leadership within Allegiance committed their support from the very beginning and was quick to react, arranging for travel for employees to the NEDC from as far away as [Illinois] and [Michigan]. In short, the reaction from all corners was nothing short of phenomenal.

Let me provide you with some statistics of what was accomplished in the first 48 hours of our response:

•Over 130 Tractor Trailer loads of product were shipped to customers from the NEDC.

•Included in this initial 130 loads was an emergency order for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for product totaling more than 20 Tractor Trailer loads that needed to be picked, packed, and shipped within the first 24 hours.

•Over 20 Police Escorts were coordinated with 5 separate jurisdictions totaling more than 50 police vehicles.

•5 helicopters provided support for 36 air deliveries made to those hospitals with the most significant need of life saving products.

•Volume within the NEDC alone exceeded previous highs by greater than 60%.

•Approximately 20 Distribution Employees from at least 5 other facilities were reallocated to the NEDC to perform critical distribution functions.

•Orders were placed to suppliers for key, critical products to account for the incremental demand.

•Donations of critically needed products for rescue workers were provided, and further coordination of these efforts was made with key suppliers.

In short, thanks to you and the support of your families, our response was enormous, and has been recognized by our customers and others. Most importantly, you played a role in making a difference when one needed to be made. I am humbled to be associated with such a tremendous group of people, and I want to take this opportunity to thank you and your families for all that you have done. Each of us recognizes that the job is not finished, but I remain confident in the ability of our company to continue to respond to whatever needs arise.

God Bless America!

Brian Concannon President, Northeast Region Allegiance Healthcare Bedford, MA

Editor's Note: Repertoire is planning to provide coverage of the New York and Washington disasters in our November issue. We will talk to distributors who were on the scene, and find out how they provided their much-needed services under difficult circumstances. But just prior to press time, Repertoire phoned Allegiance to inquire about its activities during the crisis. (Allegiance is the prime vendor of St. Vincent's Medical Center, one of the hospitals closest to the attack.) The company gave us its permission to share with you the following letter, sent on Sept. 17, to all of its Northeast Region employees by Region President Brian Concannon.