Several years ago I was speaking with Sean Kaufman, an expert in global threat preparedness and response, and I heard something that I’ve never forgotten: it’s only a matter of time before terrorism in the US involves suicide bombings. A first reaction is “that will never happen here,” at least not on a wide scale. There is no real history of these types of events in the US, and it would be difficult to pull off. The harsh reality is extremism takes many forms, but the absolute gravest form is when individuals are willing to sacrifice their lives to bring global attention to a particular cause, creating fear, panic, and devastation. Even incidents that are highly localized, such as the Paris attacks, have a global impact on communities, companies, and employees around the world. First and foremost, the likelihood that your company and your employees will be directly involved in a Paris-like attack is very low. The likelihood that an incident will happen in your city is much higher, and it will definitely impact your business and employees. Transportation lines may be shut down, curfews may be enacted, cellular networks could be inoperable (due to traffic or to shut down terrorist communications), and city blocks may be restricted from access. Your business and employees could be disrupted and displaced for weeks, which may lead to issues of mental health and PTSD issues that employers should be sensitive to. These ripple effects are very real and should be considered when developing a business continuity program. What can you do to minimize these risks? Here is a list that can help you get started:
- Train your Crisis Teams at each location on how to manage an active shooter event. You can’t rely solely on your building or local authorities to provide accurate information as an event unfolds. Take control as best you can.
- Conduct an active shooter tabletop exercise annually at each of your locations. You should rotate the scenario to include an incident directly at your office (a less likely occurrence) and an incident occurring within your city (a more likely occurrence).
- Make sure you can account for all of your employees with a 2-way emergency notification system that uses text, email, and voice communications.
- Have updated business continuity plans and incident management plans that specify how your employees can work remotely. Communicate these plans and procedures widely and practice employee teleworking at least annually.
These are some of the things your organization should be doing to prepare for the changing landscape of terrorism. Every event starts locally but can have international ramifications to your employees and your business. Planning for the new era of terrorism will keep you ahead of the curve.
Founder & Board Director