Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Earthquakes and Floods, Oh My!

Dealing with natural disasters can be daunting for anyone and whether it is flooding, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, snow, or a hurricane, it’s important for anyone to be prepared. If you’re someone who lives with diabetes you also have to think about your diabetes management needs and supplies as part of that reactive plan to have in place for yourself and loved ones. About five years ago, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we put in place a disaster relief program to help our customers prepare for natural disasters and ensure our customers get the supplies they need even in times of natural disaster. Recently, we sat down with Kirsta Hagan, a Customer Experience Driver at Medtronic, who plays a big role in this program.

Here’s what Kirsta had to say when asked about her role in helping customers when natural disasters strike the U.S.

Q. Kirsta, can you tell us about your role?

A. My role is to evaluate how a customer navigates ordering their ongoing insulin pump and diabetes supplies from Medtronic and constantly look for ways we can make the process easier.

Q. Tell one of the ways you have made the ordering process easier.

A. We know it can be challenging for a customer to obtain replacement supplies, especially after being displaced by a natural disaster. So, we have implemented a disaster relief program that proactively attempts to reach customers in an area affected by a natural disaster. We have responded to flooding, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes,  and hurricanes.

Q. You hear a news announcement about a hurricane coming in, what is your first step?

A. My first step is to monitor the path of the storm and estimate what areas might be impacted. I then pull a list of impacted customers along the path of the storm. We will use the list to call and remind them of what to take in the case of an evacuation. I also begin contacting the local sales representatives in the impacted areas to see what their needs will be to support local customers.

Q. How often do you monitor storms?

A. I actually monitor storms daily. Before I leave for work in the morning I watch the national news for their weather updates. This helps me be aware of the weather related events we may not be aware of locally. I also check weather tracking websites when I am in the office to see if there is anything forecasted to potentially impact the US.

Q. Are there are any ‘storm stories’ that stand out to you?

A. We developed our formal disaster relief program after Hurricane Katrina. As we responded to that hurricane it became clear there were things we wanted to be sure we had in place whenever our customers were faced with any type of disaster. There are many stories I could tell you, with my most memorable being the multiple tornadoes we had last spring. We jumped in and shipped emergency supplies to North Carolina, Alabama and Missouri. There was a child who lost his insulin pump and all supplies during a tornado. As soon as his parents contacted us, we provided the family with a new insulin pump and diabetes supplies by the next morning. It was great to know we were able to help this family and allow the parents to have to worry about one less thing during such a difficult time!

Q. What do you do to make sure someone impacted by a natural disaster is taken care of?

A. Our first goal is to help our customers be proactive. We do our best to reach potentially impacted customers via an automated message which advises them of our storm hotline number and what to take in case of an emergency. This information is also posted on our website during times of severe storms. The storm hotline is also a great way for customers to have easy access to an experienced Supply Order Team member to help with their needs.

Q. Is the Storm hotline only for Hurricanes?

A. No, the storm hotline is for any type of disaster which would force someone to evacuate their home or if their home was damaged and their supplies are not able to be recovered.

Q. Can you share a tip on how someone with diabetes should prepare for a natural disaster?

A. Just as you would prepare an emergency kit or checklist for an evacuation, you want to be sure you know what insulin pump and/or diabetes supplies you need. The
checklist we provide on our automated calls and online include;

  • Insulin Pump (& batteries)
  • Insulin Pump Supplies (infusion sets, reservoirs & insertion device)
  • Diabetes Testing Supplies (meter, test strips & lancets)
  • Insulin
Q. Do you sometimes feel like a ‘weather girl’?

A. I do, but in a good way! Since we don’t really get “weather” in Southern California it is nice to be connected in an unusual way to our customers in other parts of the country. I am currently tracking the wildfires in Colorado and tropical storm Debby.

Q. What is the most important thing that comes from doing a disaster program like this?

A. It is great to see how reminders and proactive outreach can really help our customers. We know our customers are uneasy during an evacuation because they worry about forgetting something. Then after a reminder call about what to pack, they are put at ease knowing they have everything they need.

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