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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