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Preparing for a crisis

Anthony Tesar

The old saying that ‘prevention is better than cure’ is very sound advice. And when it comes to security, preventing a criminal or hostile act should be one of the main focuses of any well prepared plan that your organisation has in place.

However, whilst effective deterrence and solid preventative measure will act as a deterrent and minimise the consequences and escalation of an event, there will always be those scenarios where an attack or serious situation will happen regardless of the protection that has been put in place.

It is in these times that effective response plans need to be well documented and disseminated, so that the most realistic and appropriate action can be taken. I often see relatively robust prevention plans prepared but very few that then go on to outline a carefully considered series of measures to be carried out in the event of a crisis.

A fairly standard reply when we ask why such a response has not been included is that ‘we will deal with it when it happens’.

In many ways this is a very human reaction; however, when there are employees’ lives and substantial business assets at risk, planning and preparation should always be included as default. This critical element is generally known as a Crisis Management Plan (CMP).

In the event of a serious crisis occurring people will generally think less clearly. There will be a great deal of tension and anxiety as people start to realise and react to what has happened.

There may also be a lack of accurate information and a great deal of uncertainty. Almost inevitably a wide range of individual experiences and skill sets at the decision making level will add to the confusion.

At some point, you may be required to communicate with the media and news reporters if your organisation, or people, are directly involved with the incident.

This is not the time to start considering your options, or trying to make decisions that could have been prepared well in advance and in the cool light of day. The function of the CMP is to identify as many realistic scenarios as possible and to consider just how those events would affect the organisation.

Some aspects of your business may no longer be operational or available and an effective CMP should detail a series of scalable responses to deal with the situation.

How you react to and deal with a crisis can have a dramatically positive, as well as negative, effect on your company and the outcome will depend almost entirely upon the preparation and plans you have put in place!

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