Sunday, November 30, 2008

On Terrorism, Risk and Mumbai

[Welcome Hugh Hewitt readers!]
A few years ago, I realized that although there are "carnivals" (hosted collections of blog posts on a specific subject or issue) for sports, medicine, politics, even religion, there were none for posts related to "risk." Thus was born the Cavalcade of Risk, the next edition of which will be posted Wednesday.
And throughout the life of this blog, risk has been a fundamental theme, as well (e.g. IVF). We've examined risk through the prism of insurance, of course, and wondered whether or not it still held a place even there.
But risk is about more than mortality tables, player injuries and MRI side-effects: it's about life and death in the real world. And this past week has brought the issue into sharp focus (again) with the tragedy in Mumbai. One of the poli-blogs I regularly read is Hugh Hewitt's (in fact, it was Hugh's book, Blog, that got me started blogging). In addition to blogging, Hugh has a radio show, often inviting interesting guests to be interviewed. Last week, one of his guests was "Frank Dowse...the head of Agemus Group, a security-consulting firm. Frank's been in the business since his retirement as a Lt.Col from the Marine Corps a few years back."
Mr Dowse later emailed a follow-up to Hugh, with real, tangible advice for CEO's whose employees are, or could be, in such perilous straits. I'm posting a snippet, but I urge our readers to "read the whole thing."
And yes, it's that important:
#1: Initiate/Designate a Crisis Response Team: If this is not an inherent function or area of responsibility within your organization, then assign a Point Man (COO/Vice President Level, with PR reps to assist) who can lead, authorize, and decide on behalf of the management, in order to best affect plans and responses as events unfold, and information is gathered. This needs to be a 24 hour operation, and should be given top priority for resources, and manpower.
#4: Establish Contact with Families/Significant others: If information is forthcoming (from the Embassy, federal authorities), tell what you know, and ensure it is not premature, rumor, or simply press reports. Ensure the Crisis Response team is the “releasing” authority for all info coming from the team. Keeping the families in the proverbial “loop” is one of the most important and valuable things an employer can do in a situation like this. This is best accomplished if a “pre-trip” brief has been conducted, in which emergency info and contacts are acknowledged, and the (now) victims have agreed and know that the people who have the need to know their status will, in fact, be contacted.
This is the essence of risk-management: identify, quantify and qualify the potential danger(s) and how to deal with them. I suspect that, unfortunately, we'll be needing this kind of information a lot more now.
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