Oklahoma City – April 19 1995. A car bomb exploded at 9.02 a.m. in front of the north side of the Murrah Building, headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
New York City – September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda hit the first tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 and the second at 9:03 a.m.
Madrid – March 11, 2004. Ten bombs exploded on different trains arriving in the city’s main station between 7:37 and 7:39 in the morning.
London – July 7, 2005. Terrorism strikes at 8:50 a.m. by blowing up three bombs on three different subway lines. Another deadly explosion occurs on the bus number 30 (it had collected many travelers evacuated from the Metro line) at 9:47 a.m.
Brussels – March 25, 2016. A suicide attack kills several people at the airport at 8:00 a.m., and another bomb explodes on the subway in the heart of the city at 9:10 a.m.
The (criminal) reason why these events so often happen in the rush hour is obvious. Also, as much as we discuss improving security in cities and the public-private coordination and communication in a critical event, it is equally obvious that we will always be particularly exposed to the risk of terrorism in the rush hour.
Therefore, in this article I will try to stimulate some consideration – hopefully useful to those involved in crisis management of an organization – to answer the following question: what would we do if it happened to us?
Learning the lesson of a previous crisis is a necessity and a duty. Even more so for anyone who is not affected personally or professionally from such events, and has the ability to analyze calmly – from a privileged perspective – such a tragic situation in order to verify the own level of preparedness in the field of emergency and crisis management.
So, I encourage everyone to try and answer the following questions:
Are we able to perform a reconciliation of the Staff who has not arrived to the site, yet?
How do we reconcile the Staff traveling, whether for work or pleasure?
Do we keep in our database the employees’ family contacts, to use in case of emergency (the so-called next of kin)?
If the crisis hit us when we are not physically at work, are we able to retrieve the information needed to handle the emergency?
From whom, where and how do we receive information about what has happened? Are we confident that the information received in the immediacy of a critical event be reliable and accurate?
Have we provided alternatives to the normal communication systems? If our organization has a considerable size, have we adopted specific systems for mass notifications management?
Have we performed a Crisis Scenario Simulation involving the Crisis Management Team in order to be trained and manage critical events that can potentially disrupt our operations?
Contrary to what the organizations often think, Crisis Management is an activity that we must develop in peacetime. Being well prepared to react is an effective way to prevent a crisis and mitigate any unacceptable impact. Clearly, by definition of the crisis itself, we cannot anticipate all the possible scenarios. This is why the ability to post-event response will always be a valuable resource to deal with the unexpected. However, it is undeniable that – if we predefine a response to crises model and train on the coordination between internal components and emergency stakeholders – we will be much more effective, secure and resilient.