PlanB Consulting

A Tale Of Two Cities

There are two stories that I would like to write about today.  The stories are at either side of the Atlantic and have been dominating the news all week. In the USA, the news has been about the tornado, which hit Oklahoma and horrifyingly killed 24 people. In the UK, the news has been about the “terrorist” attack which tragically killed the Army Drummer Lee Rigby.

One feature which stands out from both these attacks, has been the very graphic images which have come from each incident. The images of Oklahoma have shown the devastation caused by the Tornado –  houses and public buildings have been reduced to matchwood or rubble. The scale of the devastation is widespread, with 1000’s of homes destroyed.

The pictures from the London attack are just as brutal! The haunting image of one of the attackers ranting ‘justification’ for the attack into an eye witness’s camera phone,  his bloodied hands very visible with a meat cleaver and a knife tucked under his arm.

Again, what are the lessons from these two events?

  1. We all know that images are very powerful – The sheer destruction of Oklahoma shows it’s a major incident. It was not by chance that the terrorist in London was captured on a mobile phone. He knew, if his words were captured, they would be broadcasted round the world. I think the lesson from this is the power of images, you should review the images from any incident your organisation is involved in. Make sure the images from the incident conform or contradict what your organisation is saying in the media.
  2. Many lives were saved in Oklahoma because people had tornado shelters.  The area had been hit by tornadoes a number of times before. There was some debate on the TV whether shelters should be made mandatory in all new houses. Putting resilience into your organisation, if the incident occurs is, literally a lifesaver, although it costs money.
  3. Resilience measures can be lifesavers, so can carrying out exercise drills in response to an incident. The children in the elementary school which was destroyed in Oklahoma had been trained in tornado drills. Has your organisation recently conducted a fire practice, earthquake or tornado drill?
  4. From an article I read on the attack in London, they speculated that the two attackers had most likely researched their target or the route along which they were going to launch the attack. Often terrorists will carry out visits, at different times of the day, on their target before they launch an attack. If you are likely to be a terrorist target, especially security staff and receptionists, you should be trained on how to recognise a hostile reconnaissance and perhaps capture the terrorists before they can launch an attack.

Business continuity is all about preparing before the event happens…..

About Charlie Maclean-Bristol

Charlie Maclean-Bristol is one of the Founders and Directors of PlanB Consulting. He is also the Training Director of Business Continuity Training Ltd., a UK-based training provider accredited by the Business Continuity Institute. Charlie is a former Business Continuity Institute board member and one of the very few Fellows of both the Emergency Planning Society and the Business Continuity Institute.

A former Infantry Captain in the British Army, Charlie held several emergency planning, business continuity and crisis management positions within the energy and utility industry before founding PlanB Consulting in 2007. Over the past twelve years, Charlie has delivered business continuity consultancy in 6 of the worlds 7 continents, frequently providing full business continuity roll-outs to organisations of all sizes and in all sectors.

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