PlanB Consulting

“Fight or Flight”…. Vauxhall Helicopter Crash

On Tuesday morning the main news item was a helicopter crash in central London which killed two people. It appears that the helicopter hit a crane in fog, exploded and then crashed on to the streets below narrowly missing the bulk of commuters on their way to work.

A number of people were injured by flying debris and others had to be rescued from their cars by the fire service after they had gone on fire. Due to the falling debris and the carbon around the crash site, a number of people were evacuated from their homes in the surrounding area. Some of the lessons from this incident for us business continuity people are as follows.

  1. I think, as with all incidents, there are usually lots of lucky escapes. The crane operator was not operating his crane at the time of the crash due to him oversleeping and those on the ground mainly managed to avoid the falling bit of the crane and the exploding helicopter. My feeling is that as human’s we are pretty good at surviving incidents and if we get caught up in one, our “fight or flight” primeval instincts take over and we find a way out of potential fatal situations.
  2. If your staff were caught up in this or a similar situation do you have in place procedures for dealing with the effect of trauma on those who have been involved in a near death situations or who have witnessed a major incident? I have heard a number of talks by Mandy Rutter who talks about making sure you have in place procedures for ‘Psychological First Aid’ for your staff who have been involved in major incidents or witnessed traumatic events. Dealing with trauma, I believe, is an important part of a business continuity plan.
  3. A number of residential blocks were evacuated due to the debris from the crash for over 24 hours. If this was your office which had to be evacuated, you should have business continuity plans in place for dealing with this. My only point is this is yet another scenario which can cause denial of access to your site. It would also make a good exercise scenario and those being exercised cannot argue “it would never happen”!
  4. It was reported that the emergency services were on site within minutes and their response was extremely quick which may have saved a number of lives. Do you know where your nearest fire station is and do you know the response time to your building? If you have a rural office a fire may be responded to by retained firefighters which may increase their response time to reach your building.

With the incoming snow throughout parts of the UK, I hope you are dusting off your snow plans………

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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