Private businesses in Iowa this week will be learning how to improve coordination with public agencies in the event of disasters or other emergencies. Jami Haberl, who will lead a series of workshops conducted by the Safeguard Iowa Partnership , says attendees will hear from speakers who have learned first-hand about the importance of a solid public-private sector relationship when it comes to saving lives and protecting property.

Haberl says the speakers include Peter Ohtaki, a Bay area business executive, who was involved in the response to last year’s California wild fires and Omaha Police Lieutenant Adam Kyle, who will talk about the deadly Von Maur shooting at the Westroads Mall last December. Haberl says the goal of the workshops is to simply prepare business leaders for the worst of disasters, whether it’s a shooting, flooding or a tornado.

“Any type of disasters that could potentially impact the community are really the disasters that Safeguard Iowa Partnership is looking at and trying to learn from,” Haberl said. “It’s better to be prepared than to wait and respond to something afterwards.” Haberl says the private sector has not historically been involved in the planning, responding and recovery efforts when it comes to disaster preparedness.

“But in the last couple years, there’s definitely been a need for the private sector to be engaged. They own and operate a large percentage of our critical assets and infrastructure here in the United States and here in Iowa and they really do need to be in the forefront, planning with the government agencies, so we’re working together as a team if something would happen versus working against each other potentially,” Haberl said.

The workshops are scheduled for today in Denison, Wednesday in Cedar Rapids and Thursday in Altoona.