Thursday, October 23, 2014

Reflections on #Ottawa and St Jean sur Richelieu Attacks

Reflection on events, like those of yesterday morning are difficult to say the least. Anger wells up, and I find I would like to lash out at every person who was part of the decision not to keep people informed on threat level increases in the name of public peace of mind. The decision was disastrous to say the least.

That said, we are at a crossroad; where we must now decide to continue to "molly-caudal" the Canadian people with the misguidance of believing its for their own good, or becoming more forthright and honest and providing the people with information, guidance and training to deal with these events.

Personally, I am for the later. After all, I do firmly believe in one of our TEN33 Inc. mantras: Knowledge is Resilience! How can we protect ourselves if we don't know the threat is coming? How can we respond and recover if we are staggered by such overwhelming impact, and not educated in the tools and methods that are needed?

Ottawa's Downtown was shut down for the better part of the day. People were locked down in their businesses, with all their employees and no doubt, some of their customers; but there was little in the way of business being conducted. Certainly retail and food service industries were hard impacted, but so were others. And even where there is no "on-site" customer interaction, with all that was evolving outside, and the lack of information, productivity was at a low. In either case, the losses could be crippling.

Then I think, "What if things had been worse? What if, before heading for the Parliament Buildings, the shooter had decided to take a "rampage stroll' through the shoppes and businesses in the area? What if he hadn't been alone?"

This is where I get back to my continued gripe: WE DON'T SPEND ENOUGH ON PREPAREDNESS! Government has certainly cut the budgets at Public Safety Canada  federally and Emergency Management Ontario provincially where I am. Following the budget increases following 9/11, and the lack of terrorist activity in Canada, there didn't seem to be a reason to keep the spending in these two examples at the level they were at. Seems short sighted at this time doesn't it? Ah, but hind sight is after all, 20/20.

Duty to Care. Due Diligence. Duty of Care. Governments no doubt have these responsibilities to the public. No one doubts that, no denies it. But so does the corporate world. Corporations have a Duty to/of Care, and a responsibility of Due Diligence to their employees, to their customers and to their suppliers. They have a responsibility to "keep every individual within their premises, for what ever purposes, at any given time, to keep those individuals safe from injury or death by all efforts that may be deemed reasonable." (I may have paraphrased, but the intent remains constant) There is legal precedent on smaller scales than terrorist attacks, but the precedent remains.

So, what would constitute "all efforts that may be deemed reasonable"?

Well, certainly planning and training would be "deemed reasonable" When compared to settlements from "negligence" or "malice of forethought", creating various plans and providing training have costs that are pennies on the dollar. Creating the plans, holding seminars and training for say, Active Shooter Threats can be as low as one or two thousand dollars. A legal settlement for not planning could range easily in the millions. 

Sounds reasonable to plan to me. The same reasoning can be held for suppliers who loose your orders because you are temporarily closed and can't honour contractual obligations to purchase, or customers who's obligations you can't meet with supply of products or services.

Lets face it; mental trauma is one of the larger reasons employees never return to work after a major event or disaster. Staff just can't face returning to the "Scene" as it were; they find they can't leave the house for fear of one thing or another after facing such a horrifying shock as a terror attack, a fire, a collapse, a tornado, or any other in-imaginable disaster. That means a lost very valuable resource. It means months of training replacement staff. That means reduced productivity which in turn means lost revenue. And then there is still the chances of litigation settlements because "the company didn't do what was reasonable to protect or prepare the employee" for such an event.

My advice is this then; Do what is right, and what is moral, and provide plans, training, counseling, ANYTHING, that will help your employees, your customers and suppliers in the face of and after the fact of Disaster and other Emergencies. The cost is initially high, yes, but the annual maintenance cost of the plans, once in place and part of the culture, is minimal.

You might hate it in the beginning, but in the long term, you're going to love it! Believe me on this.

S. Gregory Long, President
TEN33 Inc. Disaster Preparedness

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The TEN33 Inc. Disaster Preparedness Consulting Resilient Communities Initiative

Press Release for Immediate Release
12 May, 2014

The TEN33 Inc. Disaster Preparedness Consulting
Resilient Communities Initiative


Every year across the globe, Disasters and Emergency situations occur. The vast majority of them are repetitious, and of natural causes; the floods of Southern Albertan the spring of 2013, the ice storms in Southern Ontario this past winter.Others have man-made or human negligence origins, such as the train derailment in Lac Megantic, while others are the result of human indifference, intolerance or despair such as the IED bombing at the last years Boston Marathon, the stabbings at a Brampton Ontario high school and at a mall in Regina. With every occurrence, the devastation mounts and the toll on lives and peace of mind.Sadly, many of the losses could have and can be reduced or prevented, and many more mitigated if only we as a society had a stronger will to do so.

In every sector of Community, Business and Public Service (our Government) life, there are those who do have the will to initiate change. They are far too few, and are often overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and challenges of making change. The result is that the will for progress and change in the area of Emergency and Disaster Preparedness is seldom if not never acted upon, and little or nothing changes for the positive.

The time for change is well overdue, and we believe at TEN33Inc. this is that time!


This  May (TEN33Inc.’s Emergency Preparedness Month) marks the beginning of the TEN33 Inc. RESILIENT COMMUNITIES INITIATIVE;a concept program requiring the inclusion of all levels of business, government and the populace to come together and assure that we as a people, a nation, as a global community are prepared and capable of surviving Emergencies and Disasters and to be as Resilient as possible by; 1) Understanding those hazards and threats present in our communities, 2) Educating ourselves on preventative and mitigative techniques, and 3)Having the tools, supplies and will and knowledge to use them to overcome adversity. In this way we mitigate or prevent the devastating effects of Emergencies and Disasters, allowing a more rapid and thorough return to “near normalcy” in our daily lives; the very definition of Resilience.

The Initiative is divided into three categories, each with areas and functions that they can perform and adopt

This includes residents, owners and renters alike. We encourage residents to seek out the knowledge, training, equipment and supplies they require to be able to respond on a personal and familial level to protect themselves as best they can during Emergencies and Disasters.While sometimes difficult to find, there are courses they can take that will give them the key tool, knowledge, in responding. Supplies and equipment to shelter, feed, clothe and rest their families. These supplies need not be expensive, rather many can be gathered together from the contents of an average home and require little more than storage containers, bags and boxes to store them in. The same can be said of the equipment, consisting of simple things such as flashlights, batteries, toiletries etcetera. And of course the most important tool or supply of all, a Home Emergency Plan. These plans are easily found free of charge on many government websites, including that of Emergency Management Ontario/Office of the Fire Marshal, or can be purchased from many consulting organisations customised to a specific residence and neighbourhood.

With such little cost in money anytime, we believe it is reasonable to ask all families to acquire a Plan, to get training, to put together Emergency or 72 Hour Kits for their families containing the tools and supplies they will need, and then to regularly review their plans, revise their plans as needed in order to keep them as current as possible. This is self advocacy, the most important part of Resilience.

Structures hold a vital key to the Resilience of any person, family or community. Well built and designed residential and commercial buildings should be a place of refuge, of safety, of security and hope.

The Initiative calls out to Builders,Contractors and Architects to become a front line force in creating resilient communities by; designing homes and other structures with a new attention given to the Evacuation of homes easily, safely and quickly, and to including in the price of homes evacuation equipment such as 2nd and 3rdstory escape ladders when necessary; with a new look at Shelter in Place considerations when Evacuation is not an option; with a new sense of surroundings and making neighbourhoods easier to evacuate from of necessary; and to doing a more in depth Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis on a property before development to mitigate or prevent threats and risks to new communities. Further, we believe it would be prudent to begin inclusion if “dry sprinkler systems” into the construction of all new development, from single family standalone dwelling to multilevel multifamily high rises, and everything in between.

Realtors can play a major role in the development of a “Prepared Culture”. Approximately 95% of all resale properties sold in Canada are sold through a realtor. As such, Realtors have the ability to assure that every resale they prepare for the seller, and every purchase they arrange for their buyers includes a Home Emergency Plan, and that the plan stays with the home because the plan is specific to that home, needing only the resident information changed (a simple prospect).

2) Business
Business is apart of the community at large. It employs, it serves, it funds. Business is the heart of a thriving city or town. As such, Business should be committed,more than ever before, to sound and solid Emergency & Disaster systems and programs:
            a) Systems for the protection of all employees at all levels; having mandatory Evacuation Plans and Protocols, with mandatory drills on a regular basis, preferably twice annually, and to be followed by evaluations of the drills and revisions of plans and protocols. Make training for all employees on the established protocols mandatory and additional training for volunteers to act as Evacuation Wardens. Special attention to Shelter in Place planning; it is not always possible or appropriate to evacuate a facility, and therefore Shelter in Place programming needs to be established in all places of employment, including public facilities.
            b) Systems to render Community Aid.The link between a community and the businesses within is undervalued by business. Business needs the community to utilise the products and services they provide. They need the community to provide the labour to generate the goods and services. Business needs the loyalty, brand loyalty, to remain healthy. In no better way can a corporation garner this loyalty than by being part of the solution to any major problem the community has. Many businesses,from the largest to the smallest have something they can offer to the community during a crisis; they can provide temporary shelter, feed the displaced and the responder teams, they can even be a central location for the reuniting of family members. Many can also operate as operations centers for response and recovery activities. In all these ways the business becomes not just another corporation, but also part of the solution.

All levels of Government, for all potential threats, risks and hazards, need to change their thinking in Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.
            a)Municipal Government: the first line of the solution. From Public Education programs being delivered, to the initial response and the last part of the recovery. They have also been the first to reduce their programs due to budget restraint. The programs can be improved by working together with other non-profit and for profit organisations in their communities that can handle the public education, train volunteer responders in programs such as CERT and TeenCERT and many other programs. Municipalities need to improve communications before the events with the community to keep them informed and aware. They can also be more inclusive in Community Emergency Exercises. Municipalities should also be more cooperative with their neighbouring municipalities in their public information and education programs to ensure continuity of operations and mutual cooperation.
            b)Provincial Government needs to begin to establish better legislation around Emergency Management to include requirements on business, to encourage at risk communities to create Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT and TeenCERT),to improve awareness in high risk communities and help the Municipal governments prepare their communities. Provincial governments need to improve building codes in areas with specific threats and risks, to be able to meet the danger levels and mitigate the effects, if not prevent them entirely.Provincial governments need to make better affiliations with private corporations that work in Emergency Preparedness and Response, who like TEN33Inc. can help them educate, train, identify threats and then work to create programs to meet them, and thus streamline the costs these programs have.Consider offering tax incentives to residents and businesses that take Emergency Planning and Preparedness steps at certain levels, and consider insurance rate breaks as well.
            c)Federal Government is ultimately responsible for creating a resilient nation,and as such should consider reinvesting in recently cut programs and funding.Federal government needs to take a stronger position, becoming a true associative through agencies that can cooperate with private sector organisations in Emergency Management. Where Emergency Management is concerned, and the implementation and continuation of programs, there needs to be a completely non-partisan attitude so that programs continue, grow and improve with time to meet the increasing threats and risks in order to create a National Resilience.

In all cases, the General Public must be made more aware and better educated regarding self protection, family protection and community protection.The common misconception is that people, when given too much information, will react prematurely and in fact over-react to potential threats. This is just not so. Through education, through awareness true preparedness can begin, and with it better response, recovery and resilience. Knowledge is Resilience, it’s not dangerous. People want to know what to do, how to respond, where to seek shelter and safety and when they know what to do, lives are saved, recovery comes faster and more complete saving millions of dollars.

It is with all of the above in mind, that TEN33 calls on all these sectors, Residents, Business and Government to now join us in the Resilient Communities Initiative.

We will be calling on the politicians, their governments and administrators to review current legislation and programs, and initiate the changes that have been recommended in the past and either been reduced, cut or never enacted in the first place. We will call on them to restore those programs that were begun in days and weeks following 9/11, and then put aside in recent years due to budget cuts. We will call on them to pick up on and join our call for improved legislation in the area of Emergency Management, Disaster Preparedness and Prevention.

We will be calling on Builders, Developers, Architects, Designers and Realtors to step up prior to any legislative intervention to help us ensure that Residential,Commercial and Industrial designs are not only beautiful and functional, but provide the protection to occupants needed, to make safe and rapid evacuation a greater consideration beginning at conception and to provide for the occupants a safe and secure Shelter in Place standard when evacuation is not prudent. We will call on them to ensure that every new structure, regardless of purpose of use, includes Emergency Response Plans, based on the architectural drawings and environmental considerations prior to occupancy. Realtors especially should be aware of including a Home Emergency Plan that is specific to that building and community when selling a new or resale home, and have them provided prior to listing or at the very least closing of the property, not because it is unsafe,but rather to ensure the safety of the occupants and their resilience to major disruptive events.

We will be calling on Business leaders from every sector to initiate Emergency Management and Business Continuity Plans into their organisations that go above and beyond data and IT considerations, to ensure they can respond quickly and effectively and then retain critical operations that would allow them rapid recovery  and return to near normal operations. To prepare suitable Emergency and Evacuation Plans for their facilities, to train Evacuation Wardens thoroughly with refresher courses every second or third years, to have suitable Emergency and Evacuation policies and plans and then train all employees on those policies and plans with suitable remedial action policies in place to ensure compliance for their own protection. To truly become part of their communities and develop programs to assist the community in its response and recovery, to offer temporary shelter, food, and relief.

The TEN33 Inc. Resilient Communities Initiative is not designed to point fingers of blame at any one or any one organisation, nor to shame any one. The goal of the Initiative is to reaffirm our commitment as a society to the principles of preparedness and awareness to disasters, and to making our communities safer and more resilient. The goal is to educate people every where of the simple and cost effective steps they can take to make themselves resilient. The goal is to change our human mindset from “It could never happen to me” to one of “If and when it happens, I’m ready!”.

Canadians don’t need and don’t want to be protected from Disaster and Emergency warnings;they want to know how to, when to and where to respond.

Canadians do not “freak out”; they do not run around aimlessly nor lay down and curl up in he fetal position when faced with crisis. Canadians are strong enough to respond with purpose when they are given the knowledge and the facts of a situation. Canadians are a hearty people with a strong desire and capability for resilience. All Canadians need is the truth of any given situation, to be presented the options, and the education and tools to meet the situation.

TEN33 Inc.’s corporate philosophy is simple: “Salus Populi, Suprema Lex Est”, a quote from Roman Emperor Cicero. “The Safety of the People is the Supreme Law”. Combine that with our other truism, “Knowledge IS Resilience”,and the path to a truly disaster and emergency resilient Canada is clear. So we call out to the private sector Emergency Management, Disaster Preparedness,Business Continuity and Resilient professionals around the Province and Nation and ultimately the Continent and Globe, to join TEN33 Inc. in promoting the Resilient Communities Initiative, as we have presented here and will continue to present over the coming months and years, and the goal of creating a better prepared and more resilient World.

S. Gregory(Greg) Long,
TEN33 Inc.Disaster Preparedness Consulting
905 809 5440
May 12, 2014

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