In September 2007, the Category-5 Hurricane Dean prepared to strike the
Events such as Hurricane Dean epitomize the unpredictable nature of our world. Without proper planning, many corporations are left vulnerable to disaster. There is no more important asset to an organization than its personnel, and contingent evacuation planning has become an operational necessity for securing employee safety – at home and abroad.
Contingent evacuation plans are a multi-faceted tool providing preparation for natural disaster, terrorism, and political disorder overseas, as well as:
§ Preservation of business continuity and integrity
§ The ability to attract high caliber personnel in areas vulnerable to natural disaster or the threat of terrorism
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Americans are more aware than ever of the potential aftermath posed by hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Although typically associated with regions such as the Caribbean and Asia, there is also the potential for deadly disasters to strike
An increasing number of
So how do corporations reconcile these risks? Develop a contingency plan to address realistic threat scenarios. Forming a contingency plan can be a challenging task, requiring a breadth of knowledge and experience. To assist in planning, consider these important steps:
§ Complete preliminary, in-house assessment
§ Form strategic partnerships
§ Maximize public resources
§ Utilize communication and practice
#1 Complete Preliminary Risk Assessment
Planning should begin with a thorough assessment that considers all potential short and long term risks, as well as questions such as:
§ What are the most probable risks to our business?
§ Does the region have a history of natural disasters?
§ Does the corporation have the resources to manage an emergency?
§ What are potential roadblocks to evacuation?
#2 Form Strategic Partnerships
Corporations with limited knowledge of emergency planning should choose a strategic partner with a demonstrated evacuation experience. Two commonly chosen partners are emergency transportation and protective security providers.
In a disaster, corporations may find that public transportation and commercial flights are unsatisfactory with limited seating and restricted schedules. Selecting reliable providers to supply ground and air transportation is a key component to most evacuation plans.
Ground transportation ranges from a bus charter for evacuees to medical transportation to the use of armored vehicles. When ground transportation is insufficient, private air charter is ideal. Air charter can move large numbers of people to locations that would otherwise be unreachable due to an impending crisis. Air charter can also be secured by humanitarian organizations in preparation for disaster relief. On-demand charter can make the work of relief agencies even more efficient and successful.
Dedicated private protective services are also core to an evacuation plan. These services may entail:
§ Emergency notification and access control systems
§ In-flight security on air charter flights
§ 24/7 security surveillance and on-site personnel
Each corporation will require a unique set of defense measures, so experience and diverse service portfolios are crucial in selecting a partner. A provider should have the ability to guide groups through all phases of contingency planning from development to on-going evaluation to actual evacuation.
#3: Maximize Public Resources
Like strategic partnerships, knowledge of current events and the security market strengthen a group’s ability to respond to an emergency. There are countless resources available to corporations, and a few qualified examples include:
American Red Cross Web Site (www.redcross.org)
The Red Cross is an excellent resource for creating an effective disaster plan. The site features best practices for developing a plan, reducing potential damages, and protecting personnel during crisis.
National Federation of Independent Business Web Site (www.nfib.com)
NFIB offers several articles on how to prepare a small business for an emergency.
State Department Web Site (www.state.gov)
The State Department offers regular updates on current and on-going events in every region of the world. Expatriates should also register on the site so that government officials have current information on the employee’s whereabouts, as well as emergency contacts and how that employee can be contacted.
Chief Security Officer (CSO) Magazine
This publication offers information on security practices, as well as security-related products and services.
#4: Utilize Communication and Practice
Once a plan is in place, it must be fully communicated and practiced. This will lead employees to develop an automatic crisis response thus making an evacuation more efficient and manageable.
Managing the challenges of contingency planning can be an overwhelming but crucial task. An evacuation plan can make all the difference in times of crisis, and implementing the steps above will enhance a corporation’s ability to effectively manage any emergency. So begin planning today:
§ Assess potential threats to your organization;
§ If emergency preparation is unfamiliar territory, reach out to those more experienced;
§ Utilize the resources at your fingertips; and
§ Consistently communicate with personnel.
One thing is certain, employee safety and business security should never be left to chance.