Kingsbury Machine Tool Corp. is prepared for the worst. The manufacturer of high-production metal-cutting machines and assembly systems, located in Keene, N.H., maintains an in-house disaster squad of 45 volunteer employees.

Each squad member receives 45 hours of initial training in disaster-response, followed by 10 hours a year of refresher instruction. The group's chief and four leaders are connected by beepers to the company's telephone system.

"The squad members have saved the day several times," says Kingsbury subcontract administrator John Grossi. One of the team's recent exploits, he recalls, was sandbagging company buildings during a flash flood. "They prevented very expensive equipment from being ruined by water, because they were already here and could mobilize quickly." Roger Hetherman, vice-president of employee and community relations, believes that the disaster squad has contributed to the company's low accident rate -- half the national average for companies in related industries.