HEADLINE: NY plot shows need for vigilance and practice
SUMMARY: Despite progress in the preparedness of public emergency responders in terrorist targets like New York and London, the private sector has had a mixed record in updating its procedures and preparing staff for crises, notably in instilling a rigorous culture of office security drills, experts say. "People would be mortified to learn that there are companies -- a very small number, including major corporations -- out there who simply have not responded to the new security requirements," said Hagai Segal, a security expert and lecturer at New York University's London branch, adding that such firms tend to lack commitment to test exercises and procedures, and perceived security and business continuity as a cost rather than a benefit.
ANALYSIS: Our biggest flaw as Americans is complacency. Most of Europe and the Middle East have been on high alert since the days of the IRA, PLO and other smaller, but no less lethal, organizations. Our situational awareness, response times and plans have improved since 9/11. However, these efforts are being compromised because of the many financial emergencies across the nation.
Practicing and training requires a significant amount of money and resources. FEMA has dramatically reduced its large-scale training programs because of budget issues. Companies frown upon “losing’’ the productivity time from their workers who participate in training and drills. When they do conduct drills, we find that they are more often than not just to meet the basic requirements or regulatory mandates. The fact is, most of these drills aren’t challenging and are rarely allocated the resources needed to make for a true learning experience and you don’t have time for on-the-job training during an emergency.
Firestorm finds that about 70 percent of employees do not know what to do during an emergency. A recent study showed an overwhelming lack of confidence by students and faculty that their universities are equipped to handle a crisis. Why? It is the lack of training. Training and drills develop skills and confidence of everyone involved.
More shareholders and employees need to apply pressure to the C-level management and board members to be more vigilant about being prepared. Training does not always have to be focused on a big terrorism event, but on the more common events such as fire, workplace violence, communicable illness and severe weather. It is far easier to adjust a plan than to make one up on the fly.