If last week was any indication, it is becoming increasingly clear that the threat of terrorism is expanding globally. Not only did Paris endure several coordinated attacks; Beirut and Yola, Nigeria were both targets of terrorist attacks, as well. In addition to showing support for the victims, survivors, and others affected by these atrocities, it is imperative that organizations also look for ways to protect ourselves and each other from future acts of terrorism.

A growing terrorism response trend among first responders recognizes the synchronized use of various forms of weaponry and tactics to cause injury or death to a specific group of people, called hybrid targeted violence (HTV). Terrorist acts carried out for political gain more frequently use this type of tactic. This scenario accurately describes the type of violence experienced in Paris: gunmen at one location, a suicide bombing at another, people held hostage at yet another location. This is not the first time, however, that terrorists used violence in multiple locations to carry out their malicious intent.

Take, for example, the attacks in Mumbai, India in 2008. A group of terrorists attacked two hotels, a train station, a Jewish center, a movie theater, a café, and a hospital over a three day period.  Using multiple violence tactics such as gun fire, grenades, and holding hostages, the group was supposedly seeking out British and American citizens. This specific attack left 164 people dead and even more injured. The use of more than one form of violence not only creates a chaotic situation for all those involved, but also puts the victims in a situation where they are required to act quickly while being aware of and responding to multiple threats.

Preparing your employees for multi-faceted crises is becoming increasingly important as HTV becomes more prevalent. Your employees’ safety is the most important part of your business continuity program, and ensuring they are trained to handle more than one threat at once is an integral part of ensuring their safety. Actionable plans must be created, maintained, and tested to address the threat of multiple forms of violence occurring at one time. Here, we have provided guidelines to help you create your terrorism threat plans.

Terrorism Threat Assessment

In most cases, attacks happen abruptly with little-to-no notice. The first step toward preparing for such events is to determine which terrorist situations are possible within your community. Coordinating with counterterrorism professionals on what types of disruptions can occur can be beneficial to the creation of appropriate responses and plans. Most metropolitan law enforcement agencies have counterterrorism task forces; however, your local police bureau can connect you to the proper department. You should also consider your business’ proximity to soft targets such as hotels and schools and the potential for doing business with clients who may be considered terrorist targets.

Reduced Workforce/Business Disruptions

There are several reasons why your workforce may be reduced following a terrorist attack. The attack could happen to your building or close to your building, shutting down offices and possibly surrounding streets. This situation could prevent your employees from reaching the office. Another scenario could include a terrorist attack affecting friends or family members of your employees, requiring them to take care of personal issues related to the attack instead of going to work. Factoring reduced workforce and physical barriers to your business into your terrorism threat plan will enable you to maintain normal business operations despite not having access to your location or your entire workforce.

Clear Communications Standards

The chaos immediately following a terrorist attack can be confusing, terrifying, and stressful. To combat the added pressure, your business continuity plan should have clear communications parameters that ensure internal and external messages align, identify who is responsible for relaying messages, and determine through which channels messages should be pushed. Additionally, be sure to involve law enforcement and other emergency personnel when devising or updating your terrorism threat plans so your Crisis Teams can learn how to properly communicate with first responders during an attack.

Hybrid Targeted Violence Exercises

Tabletop exercises and drills are tools your business can and should be using to ensure your plans are not only actionable, but well communicated to every employee. When preparing for HTV, combine two or three threats in one tabletop exercise, assuming all three are occurring at once. The difference in responding to one of these threats compared to responding to three at once is what will potentially save the lives of your employees.

Counseling/Family Services

It is difficult to know how employees will react to acts of terrorism. Regardless of where the physical violence actually occurs, they could still have a strong emotional reaction to what took place. Supervisors should note any changes in employee behavior—loss of interest, increased absences, etc.—and discuss with HR the possible impact of the terrorist attack on employees. If they can, businesses should provide counseling assistance if employees feel they are suffering as a result of the terrorist attack. Likewise, if businesses have a means of tracking employees, they should consider extending those services to help employees locate their friends and family members, as well.

preparis terrorism checklistThe impact of terrorism can be vast and long-lasting. It is important to plan and prepare terrorist attacks now to mitigate the damage. For further suggestions on ways to respond to the increasing terrorism threat, download the “Responding to Terrorist Attacks” checklist. In it, you will find information on common types of terrorist attacks, what to expect after an attack occurs, and the difference in your responses immediately following an attack versus days after a terrorist attack is launched. For more ways to build and maintain a culture of preparedness within your organization, visit www.preparis.com or contact us at info@preparis.com.