Category Archives: Preparedness: Schools

Preparedness for Schools: beyond Health and Safety, Business Continuity

Safe Evacuation: ‘mass’ evacuation and why ‘self’ evacuation preparedness makes a lot of sense

updated 24/06/2017

Mass evacuation is (mostly) self-evacuation – what you need to know.

Part 2 of  ‘Safe Evacuation – what exactly does safe evacuation look like?’  and ‘Safe Evacuation: tall buildings, tower blocks: why Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans and Emergency Preparedness tools are essential’ (tip: follow the blog category ‘Safe Evacuation’ on the right hand navigation).

The first post in this series looked at what an evacuation is (the immediate and urgent movement of people out of harm’s way to a safe location) and under what circumstances it may occur. It stayed pretty much within the familiar bounds of small scale evacuations from a home or a building of ‘regular’ size. Now I want to begin tackling another fascinating aspect which is ‘mass evacuation’. Timely and ironically perhaps I post this at the very moment a mass evacuation is actually under way in Florida and the Carolinas CNN Hurricane Matthew mass evacuation

 

Mass Evacuation: not relevant in peace-time UK ? Think again.

Other than the ‘regular’ emergency evacuations usually inconveniencing relatively small numbers of people because of suspicious packages (ie airports, train stations, high street, shops, shopping centres, and offices etc), sudden finds of unexploded WW devices (Southwark) and even sinking ferries you may remember these two major incidents:

      • 2005 Birmingham evacuates approximately 20,000 people following a security alert

 

       Neither, however, actually classifies as ‘mass evacuation’. According to the Mass Evacuation Framework (2014) by the London Resilience Partnership, evacuating 5,000 or 20,000 people is still ‘just’ a so called ‘medium scale evacuation’. Nevertheless, the Holbon electrical fire on 01 April 2015 is a good example and here is why. In the words of Gary Squires from the London Fire Brigade (BBC)

 “lots of people had “self-evacuated” from nearby buildings and it was only the ones on Kingsway that had been evacuated by the authorities.”

This illustrates the point I’m making about the importance of self-evacuation and the need for better preparedness. Why? Because many workers and students were unable to return for several days (36 hour blaze), having left behind wallets, phones, keys and other important personal items in their hurry to get to safety. Thankfully no one was hurt and the incident happened on a relatively fine spring day, not in the middle of rush hour or during severe weather. It would have been a different story.

I also want to mention the 7/7 bombing. Police estimate  4,000 people were caught up in the blasts in some way, many forced to self-evacuate. One of those people was my colleague Ben who has written here on school emergency preparedness. He will talk about his experience in a separate post. For now, I simply wish well all those currently caught up in the events of Hurricane Matthew and stress that preparedness is important and actually quite easy and straight forward where ever you are in the world.

UK organisations and businesses I urge to very seriously consider expanding your capacities and include Workplace Emergency Kits in your Health and Safety, Security and Business Continuity planning.  Considering how much such a simple and cost-effective step reduces your risks it is well worth the minor investment. A small item like a Personal Evacuation Pack to which items relevant to the individual have been added can make a real difference.    

Monika    

This post is also accessed by bit.ly/MassEVAC

 thank you for sharing and raising awareness for Emergency Preparedness

 

 

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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School Preparedness and Resilience in Exam Time

SchoolExamstock image dreamstime_xs_52589783 time is upon us again.

Lots of stressed out teenagers sat at small desks in gyms and halls across the country feeling like every word they write will determine the course of the rest of their life.

But what does exam time mean in terms of preparedness and resilience?

Well it changes how we do our business quite significantly.  All of a sudden we have a whole new set of considerations we need to plan for.

Firstly we have mixed up our usual peer groups so we need to be accounting for them differently in the event of an evacuation, like for a fire alarm.  All our usual assembly areas will have changed too so any rehearsals or drills we have previously carried out are now void.  It may be that we should consider adding an evacuation brief to the normal exam preamble about not talking and being escorted to the loos.

Next we only have one set of the relevant exam papers which we open on the day of the exam when we hand them out.  What do we do if they are damaged or destroyed?

We are also probably using different facilities.  We love to put them all in the gym or the hall where we can keep an eye on them at once, and we need less invigilators that way.  But what do we do if we can’t use that facility.  Do we have a plan to use other classrooms?  If they are en-bloc to the hall or gym they might be unavailable too.  But the exam has to happen at that date and time to prevent cheating!  What are we going to do?  Now we are in multiple smaller classrooms rather than one big hall we need more invigilators, who are they and how will we get hold of them?

Beyond ‘logistics’: building reputation management and psychosocial resilience

What about our reputation?  What does it say about us if we get this wrong?  A good friend of mine always says “Just imagine the headline”.  As a professional organisation we have to get this right.  Relations between students, parents and school can be a challenge at the best of times.  Not to mention maintaining our image in the community.  Every crisis is actually an opportunity.  Managing any disruptions during exam time will really set us above the pack!

Finally what about our consideration of psychosocial resilience.  Our young people are going through what is probably the most stressful experience they have ever had in their lives to date.  ChildLine and the Samaritans always report a significant spike in calls from young people at this time of year.  A recent survey by ChildLine said that a worrying 64% of their 1300 respondents stated they have never received any support in dealing with exams.  Even more worryingly these same respondents said they dealt with exam stress by smoking, taking drugs and self-harming.  Sadly, for some it is all too much and results suicide.  We should be looking to the psychosocial welfare of everyone in our school communities, but we should be making even more efforts during exam time.

What we need is a set of contingency plans specifically for exam time that sit as part of our Crisis and Continuity planning.  The young people sitting these exams are suffering from enough stress without the uncertainty of being unable to actually sit their exam or have it disrupted.  They are the future after all and we have a duty to give them the best support we can.

Ben O’Toole


thank you for sharing, raising awareness for School Resilience and Emergency Preparedness!

This article was written before the latest headline hit Bomb threats across UK schools on GCSE exam day as caller vows to ‘behead children’ For more information on practical tools for school preparedness and resilience visit evaq8.co.uk/schools

What are “invacuation”, “lock-down” and “shelter-in-place”? How do they link to emergency preparedness and why is that important?

updated 03/05/2017 : new government guidance issued “Recognising the terrorist threat

Invacuation_EVAQ8-shelter-in-placeOften there is confusion about what  these, sometimes interchangeable, terms mean. Perhaps this is because the typical safety procedure everyone in the UK is most familiar with is to evacuate – the standard ‘get out – stay out – call 999’ advice of fire safety.  In contrast, staying in when ‘all hell breaks loose’ is counter-intuitive at first, especially for commercial or public premises. However, ‘getting out’ is neither possible nor wise in a number of scenarios as will be explored shortly in the wider sphere of workplace emergency preparedness; but first things first, a quick look at the terminology:

 “in-vacuation is probably the least known term but once you understand the meaning as ‘inverse evacuation’ you will always remember this wordplay on opposites

“lock-down” refers to an emergency protocol to prevent people (or information) from escaping and typically involves some form of violence.  Lock-down examples in the news typically concern bomb threats or attacks, especially in crowded places such as inner city areas, sports events, theatres, shopping centres, places of worship or schools.

“shelter-in-place” in the UK is mostly understood in two quite specific ways, both rooted in fire safety:

  • “go in – stay in – tune in”, the ‘classic’ shelter-in-place order issued by the emergency services. Typically, this may happen during a major incident such as a large fire, hazmat or security incident.  It means that you have to close (and seal, depending on the severity of the incident) all doors, windows (and vents) to create a contamination free space. Take immediate shelter in a readily accessible safe location and await further instructions. Stay well away from window panes that may shatter and cause injuries
  • specialist measures to provide safe shelter and security from hazards to vulnerable persons that may have difficulty to evacuate such as wheelchair users, the elderly or persons with disabilities

There is much more to Shelter-in-Place and it certainly applies to more than just fire safety and counter-terrorism. Have a look at the following post SIP: SHELTER-IN-PLACE | September is Preparedness Month.

Since the tragic events in Paris and while UK threat levels remain SEVERE, understandings are now expanding beyond fire safety into emergency preparedness for all persons and at all levels. That includes business, especially if located at or near crowded places. The recent “Run – Hide – Tell” safety video from the National Counter Terrorism Security Office is an excellent example which reflects this.

Why “shelter-in-place”, where and how?

‘Hiding’, or hopefully a more controlled, planned and prepared emergency procedure such as  ‘shelter-in-place’ protocols are not only about terror threats such as lone shooter incidents or a firearms and weapons attack as in the above NaCTSO video. Shelter-in-place is highly relevant for a range of scenarios which, broadly, can be divided into ‘man-made threats’ and ‘natural hazards.

Shelter-in place or invacuation rather than evacuation makes sense not only for threats

  • explosion, structural damage
  • hazardous materials (HAZMAT, i.e. biological, chemical …)
  • attack with weapons and/or firearms, bomb threat, drones
  • civil unrest, riot

but also for natural hazards such as storms and severe weather, severe cold or heatwave, during an earthquake, pandemic or , most relevant for the UK, flooding which destroys more businesses than fire. So, what does an ideal shelter-in-place room look like?

 

Shelter-in-place: rooms above ground floor, for example …

  • interior rooms with no windows  and/or
  • exterior rooms with loadbearing walls, few windows and vents that can be sealed
  • adequate space to sit people, avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms
  • feature fire doors and a way to barricade yourself in may provide additional safety

Utility rooms, large storage rooms, pantries, conference rooms etc. may work well as designated shelter-in-place areas. In addition

  • install a landline telephone in the room to call for help, mobile phones may be overwhelmed
  • mark the room(s) with a ‘shelter-in-place’ sign on the inside of the room only for security reasons and assure your safety personnel and staff are well trained (download free shelter-in-place sign to print)
  • strategically place preparedness supplies; i.e. emergency food and water, light & communication etc.

 

Shelter-in-place procedure – emergency plan

Specific procedures for shelter-in-place vary depending on the nature of the environment, anticipated and planned for threats and typically include:

  • close the premises
  • inform staff, customers and visitors to stay, not leave and go to designated areas immediately
  • do not walk or drive outdoors
  • ask all people present to turn their phones to silent and call their emergency contact to let them know where they are and that they are safe unless there is an imminent severe threat where silence must be observed
  • turn on business call-forwarding or alternative telephone systems. If you have voicemail, change the recording to indicate that you are temporarily closed, that staff and visitors are safe and will remain in the building until authorities have issued the all clear
  • lock (and seal) air vents, doors, windows;  draw shades, blinds or curtains in case of an explosion
  • turn off or disable fans, heating and air conditioning as well as all other non-essential electricals
  • get hold of your emergency supplies and go to your previously identified shelter-in place area

Ideally, on each floor you will have access to an emergency grab bag, individual One-Person-Compact-Survival-Kits for staff as well as a Shelter-in-Place Kit for up to 20 persons in each shelter-in-place location. While this is perhaps not possible everywhere, absolute minimum supplies include battery powered or wind-up radio (communication), flashlight and/or headtorch, first aid, long-life food and water. Also recommended are waterproof gaffa tape and either plastic sheeting or garbage bags that can be cut and taped to provide emergency seals.

Once securely at your shelter-in-place location

  • keep calm, stay behind solid objects well away from glass
  • place signs in exterior windows to identify your location where possible
  • make list of everyone in the room, their address and affiliation with your business (employee, visitor, customer…) and then call your designated emergency contact to report
  • listen to radio, watch TV or use the internet to stay informed
  • await further instructions until the all clear is given and it is safe to stand down

 

Shelter-in-place is usually resolved quickly but may last for several hours or even days.  To find out which risks are most pertinent to you see the National Risk Register  and the local risk register published by your Local Resilience Forum.  You may also find our google slides “Shelter-in-Place at work” useful for your own Emergency Preparedness.

Security, health & safety and duty of care are just some of the reasons why it makes sense to be prepared. Make appropriate plans and get the emergency kit that is right for you. If none of our standard emergency kits are suitable, simply contact us for a competitive bespoke quote. Our friendly and knowledgeable team is always happy to help and advice.

Finally, check out Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism resources and also  ‘Project Griffin’ which provides briefing events to increase public and staff awareness to business of how best to reduce and respond to the most likely types of terrorist activities. Also out now (Oct 2016) is the Independent Review of London’s Preparedness to respond to a major terrorist incident.

Monika

Thank you for stopping by. See below for updates. In addition, for more resilience blog use the right hand navigation. For kit and practical resources use the top navigation. If you’re new to Emergency and Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the Preparedness Hub and Business Preparedness.

This blog post is also accessed by http://bit.ly/lock-down.

Thank you for sharing this post    

 

 

 


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Building Community Resilience – one UK school at a time | open letter to Primary and Secondary School Headmasters

Since 2005 we have been at the forefront in championing School Emergency and Disaster Preparedness in the United Kingdom. To raise awareness and promote affordable solutions such as best practice School Resilience Package and School Emergency Grab Bags our mail campaign is here now also reproduced for wider dissemination.

Threats to Schools | best practice Emergency Management and Business Continuity

Dear Headmaster

Recent major incidents both natural (i.e. storms Desmond, Eva and Frank) and man-made (bomb threats to UK schools at home and abroad) have once again highlighted the urgent need for schools to be better prepared.

SEMP templates are problematic. Freely available templates may appear a ready solution. However, in practice they do not hold up for three main reasons:

  • not sensitive to the needs of individual schools
  • tricky and time-consuming to assemble
  • do not comply with recognized best practise standards such as existing ISO or British Standars which means a lack of robustness

Affordable solution

School Resilience Package to ISO and British Standards & School Emergency Grab Bags following NaCTSO guidelines.

For full details please visit evaq8.co.uk/schools

EVAQ8 Ltd has been at the forefront of championing School Emergency and Disaster Preparedness in the UK since 2005. As the UK’s Emergency Preparedness specialist, we look forward to being of service in all aspects of your school’s practical Emergency and Business Continuity Management to further your community’s resilience.

School Emergency Planning & Exercise - Preparedness = Resilient Communities

School Emergency Planning & Exercise | Preparedness = Resilient Communities

 

Why template School Emergency Plans do not add up

Back in 2004 the Civil Contingencies Act was born.  This obliged the myriad Local Authorities around the country to start planning in earnest for issues which could occur in their area, and for the most part they are doing a good job.  There is an obligation placed on the Local Authorities to “…assess, plan and advise…”  Due to this Local Authorities felt an obligation to their Local Education Authorities and put together something for the schools in their area to use.

This is where things started to go awry.  A quick google search will turn up a myriad of template plans from various Local Authorities.  When one delves into the Document properties it becomes obvious that

there are really only two plans out there

One produced by Nottingham County Council and one from Manchester City Council.  Both of them were produced around the same time 2011/2012.  They were both creditable attempts of dealing with the issue at the time.

Now however, things have moved on.  When the two plans were produced the big buzzword in emergency planning was continuity.  This was a discipline which fell out of the business arena and dealt with still being able to maintain a product or a service during a disruption.  Quite a cottage industry has grown up around this along with overly costly and complex ISO certification.

Now Business Continuity is no longer viewed as being the be all and end all, but rather one part of the solution.

The two templates were understandably continuity heavy.  Sadly they were not in depth enough to be considered as compliant with ISO 22301 which is the International Standard for Business Continuity.  In fact

in one of the plans around 85% of the mandated content is missing.

This therefore presents Local Education Authorities with somewhat of a conundrum.  One that most of them are blithely oblivious of.  Every year schools within the public sector are obliged to be audited against the School Financial Value Standard.  This is a series of questions which seeks to ascertain whether public money is being responsibly used.  Question 25 of this document states:

Does the school have an appropriate business continuity or disaster recovery plan, including an up-to-date asset register and adequate insurance?”

Given how these templates stack up against ISO 22301 the answer should surely be no.

However, time and again this box gets ticked off due to the presence of one of these templates.  The situation is that the Local Authority is auditing itself against a document which they have produced and not had externally verified.  I cannot say that this sounds like a well-executed audit of how public money is being spent.

So let us delve further.  In 2014 BS 65000:2014 Guidance on oganizational (sic) resilience was published.  This document fundamentally reassessed how organisations should prepared for and deal with emergencies.  This document divides this into three fundamental areas.  Firstly risk assessment.  BS 65000:2014 is explicit in its guidance that all emergency planning should be threat based.  Risks are to be identified, recorded and managed.  For me this is the most fundamental part of any emergency planning.  How can you plan for things if you do not know what they are?

The second area is that of Crisis Management.  This is the “what do I do right now?” part of dealing with an emergency.  This particular discipline has been around for a while now.  Private sector organisations have become very aware that dealing with the immediate effects of an incident will reduce the impact on them, reduce the financial cost, reduce reputational damage and make recovery to normal a much speedier process.  Last year BS 11200:2014 Crisis Management – Guidance and good practice was published.  This document formalised an area which has been quietly growing in importance and complexity over the past ten years.

The third area is Business Continuity.  This is the part which should be the most comprehensive given that this is the most mature.  Here we are dealing with “how do I maintain delivery through a disruption and how do I return to normal?”  This area has been detailed for quite some time as an International Standard.  ISO 22301:2014 is the latest incarnation.  However, if you have 22301:2013 don’t rush out to buy the update, I did only to find that the only change was the year.

So far I have dealt with why templates do not work in terms of benchmarking against British and International Standards.  I now want to deal with

other reasons why one should not use a template

Firstly everywhere is different.  This may sound trite but one size does not fit all.

Ok the cartoon is referring to standardised testing but you get the idea.  We can all go to a high street store and buy a medium sized shirt.  It’ll fit ok but never as well as if you had had it made for you.  A resilience strategy is just the same.  Different organisations will have different risk thresholds; different thresholds for how much service they want to maintain; and different risks which affect them.  For a strategy or response to be the best response it can be it must be unique to that organisation.

Secondly the people filling in the templates lack the competency to do so.  This is not to slur those working in the various schools around the country, they do a very hard job and should be commended for it.  They are not, however, emergency and resilience practitioners.

Without a full understanding of risk assessment and management, crisis management and business continuity someone filling in a template can never create a document which lives up to its fullest potential.

Thirdly, it is lazy.  Yes this is a strong thing to say, but I stand by it.  These templates are being passed all over the country and are not being checked against the very clear and detailed British and International Standards by the individuals and organisations who are supposed to be the subject matter experts.  I even saw one in place in a school in the south of England which said that the grab bag should contain a Manchester A to Z!  Frankly this idleness on the part of those distributing these documents is endangering lives.  There is a very strong culture of “good enough” which permeates through the whole of our society and frankly it is pushing us all into a national mediocrity.

Finally, it is

leaving key individuals open to prosecution and litigation

A casual glance at any kind of social media will demonstrate that as soon as something happens people immediately reach for their mobile phone and start recording it.  Every response we make in a situation is recorded.  As such it must be justified by being in tune with current best practice.  This is leaving organisational heads in danger of prosecution and civil litigation.  It won’t be the people passing out these templates who end up in the dock, it will be the headteachers.

More information on school emergency prepardness and school resilience EVAQ8.CO.UK/schools


thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Resilience and Preparedness!

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources for individual preparedness head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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A factual comparison: Emergency Grab Bags for Schools, official UK Guidance vs EVAQ8 Kits

Update 14Nov2017: to make access even easier, we now have a special category School Safety and Emergency Kits.

We often answer questions about how exactly our School Emergency Kits (S221 and S220) match up with official requirements, especially following our launch of the UK’s first School Resilience Package*. To make it easy, below is a factual comparison.

 

School Emergency Grab Bags / School Emergency Kits: what does the official UK guidance say and how does this compare to EVAQ8 School Emergency Kits?

  • UK Schools are mandated to produce robust Emergency and Business Continuity Plans (SFVS 2015)
  • An integral part of robust plans is to have the right practical resources in place; i.e. NaCTSO “Grab Bags’ should be available in key locations, which contain essential equipment and information.”
  • An easy way to comply is for the school to have the right Emergency Preparedness Kits

Each School, small or large, is advised to stock a School Emergency Grab Bag

To aid clarity, the following image is a comparison drawn across the most recent NaCTSO guidance, a typical School Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) template1 as currently in use and both School Emergency Kits available on this website. We hope you find it useful. Right-click on the image to open a larger version and use CTRL+ on your keyboard to magnify.You can also view it as a more comprehensive PDF version.

There are a few non-mandatory additions given in official guidelines. Please see the full PDF verison for details.

How good is good enough and what is robust? A more critical look.

As you may appreciate, official guidelines cover bare minimum requirements. However, chances are this is not good enough for you.

That is why our Emergency Kits are fully customisable.

Why should you compromise or stick with the bare minimum? Emergency Preparedness is too important a topic to be taken lightly. Get the Emergency Kit that’s exactly right for your school at competitive prices and with minimal lead times. Placing a bespoke order is easy.

Also, you may want to differentiate between mobile School Grab Bags versus ‘Shelter-in-Pace’ / in-situ Emergency Preparedness Resource Kits for lock down situations. Our friendly and knowledgeable team is happy to advice or simply browse the Emergency Kit section so see standard and custom-made kits.

That covers Emergency Kits – what about Emergency Plans?

Well, templates are a start. However, frankly speaking, not a very good one especially when leaving gaps which mean that individuals such as headteachers can be prosecuted. The aim of the Corporate Homicide and Corporate Manslaughter Act was to put an end to organizations being culpable, shifting responsibility to individuals.

Why ready-made templates are not fit for purpose you can read in more depth in the next post  Why template School Emergency Plans do not add up.

The solution: affordable and robust custom made School Resilience Products.**

For background, please see Emergency Preparedness and Resilience for Schools – a new approach. Alternatively, simply use this blog’s categories drop-down menu and look for posts tagged ‘schools’.

Don’t delay! Let us make your plans and sort your kit so that you can be better prepared to the latest recognized standards:

  • Schools Financial Value Standard 2015 (SFVS)
  • NaCTSO National Counter Terrorism Security Office, 2009 “Counter terrorism protective security advice for Higher and Further Education”
  • BS 6500:2014 Organisational Resilience
  • BS 11200:2014 Crisis Management
  • BS ISO 22301:2014 Business Continuity Management
  • BS ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management

Resilient Schools – Resilient Communities: let’s start building today!

EVAQ8.CO.UK/schools

 

** please note, School Resilience Products (bespoke School Emergency Plans) have been discontinued. This section of the blog is of historic interest only. However, school emergency kits remain and are now in their own category School Safety Kits.

 

References:

1 School Emergency Management Plan (SEMP); in use across counties, i.e. Merseyside, Hertfordshire, Nottingham etc. Sample accessed (1/10/15) from

*the ‘School Resilience Package’ comprising kit and bespoke plans launched in 2015 and was discontinued early 2017 due to supplier changes


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Emergency Preparedness and Resilience for Schools – a new approach

source: http://www.lincoln.kyschools.us/userfiles/2/EmergencyExercise_web_H.jpg

Amazing things happen when passionate people share a hugely important common interest such as advancing Community Preparedness and Resilience. You already know about us and what we do and also about me more personally through this blog.

Now I’d like you to meet Ben.  Why? Because he has worked tirelessly with us since earlier this year to realize one of our ambitions, to create

the UK’s first robust, affordable and readily accessible School Resilience Products following recognized ISO and British standards.

It may even be a world first.

But let me start at the beginning with Ben and you will understand why I am so excited about our latest collaboration project.

Ben is soft-spoken with a ready smile, an enthusiastic and thorough person with a sense of humour who always goes the extra mile or ten. I know because here we are today after many months of back and forth tweaking and perfecting to create an entirely new approach: robust School Resilience products beginning with a School Resilience Package and a School Desktop Review Emergency Planning.

Although Ben and I come from hugely different backgrounds we share a certain vision and tenacity as well as an uncompromising insistence on quality and value for money. In his case this capacity is not surprising when I tell you that, having graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2001, Ben spent 10 years as a British Army Officer responsible for response and evacuation of injured personnel overseas. He was also responsible for coordinating the roll-out of a £85 million Medical Information Management Programme to 180 sites worldwide. In addition Ben has considerable expertise in HAZMAT and clocks specialised training in CBRN to the level that he is qualified to advise National and Local Government. Oh, and he is a member of the British Standards Institute, The Chartered Management Institute and The Emergency Planning Society as well as a British Military Martial Arts instructor, teaching Self-Defense and Close Quarter Protection.

Importantly, Ben is also a loving and engaged father and has spent significant time working with schools on a voluntary basis. Thus he is expertly placed to know and understand the particular needs of schools in terms of dealing with major events.

And so here we are today, the various expertise coming together and falling into place. Easy – well, kind of 😉  It is with real pleasure and a deep sense of satisfaction that we introduce today:

  • School Resilience Package: a custom-made Risk Assessment, Crisis Management and Business Continuity Plan in one comprehensive Package to all current BS/ISO standards

Please see the individual product ‘Description’ tabs for detailed info and how to order. These two custom-made consultancy products will perfectly complement our range of ready and custom-made Emergency Kits for Schools.

These days, Schools are being placed ever more actively at the forefront of Community Resilience. Rightly so, I believe for a culture of Preparedness and Resilience needs to be built early on. Schools can play a vital role in this not only in their own Preparedness but in their role as community educators.

EVAQ8’s mission and contribution to this much larger picture is simple: making available reliable, effective and affordable products and services. Please contact us anytime – our friendly and knowledgeable team is happy to be of assistance.

School Emergency Planning | source http://emergency.ucsc.edu/emergency-management/plans/images/plans-banner.jpg?t=0

You may also be interested in: A factual comparison: Emergency Grab Bags for Schools, official UK Guidance vs EVAQ8 Kits and Why template School Emergency Plans do not add up.

Monika

thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Community Resilience and Preparedness! For more resources visit our schools preparedness page and also see:

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Resilience and Preparedness Roadblocks: what stops us?

updated 14Sep2016

Next month, September is National Preparedness Month (NPM or NatlPrep) in the US with many campaigns to raise public awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Here in the UK, year on year, regular local events (ie the #30days30waysUK2016 September campaign) are also becoming more numerous and around November the EA (and related bodies) raise awareness for National Flood Preparedness. For me this is encouraging to witness for I believe that awareness and engagement for preparedness has still some way to go. More individual and community action is needed to build a robust culture of preparedness and resilience.

What are the stumbling blocks? Why aren’t we all much better prepared?

Despite the best intentions most of us fail to do enough, unless you’ve been personally affected in the past, for example during the recent floods.

Why is that? Where does this apathy and narrow shortsightedness come from?

source: http://d.ibtimes.co.uk/en/full/1362238/aerial-flooding-01.jpg

Well, I recently read Robert Clifford’s interesting article in The New Scientist “The road to climate hell” and was struck just how easily his analysis also applies to preparedness.

Richard identified 33 ‘dragons’, a metaphor for obstacles or ‘drag-on’ processes that stop us engaging and taking action. Robert’s approach is such a brilliant way to illustrate complex topics that I hope he won’t mind me borrowing and adapting for preparedness.  

1st Dragon family : limited cognition

    • antiquated brains, old hardware and energy conserving software that  have not changed much in 30’000 years. Rather than engage in effort-full anticipation and planning we tend to operate in the comfortable and easy ‘here now’ mode – and that simply makes us slow to act
    • ignorance is bliss they say but not for long and we all should heed Benjamin Franklin who poignantly stated “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” . Not only do we tend ignore the necessity for preparedness, we often simply do not know what to do and how to go about it. To make matters worse, preparedness is not simply one thing but means different things to different people at different times and also depending on context. Just exactly what the right kind of preparedness is only you can determine (i.e. by starting at our preparedness info hub and begin making your Emergency Preparedness Plan)
    • uncertainty is tricky to navigate, especially in today’s world of ambiguous messages and unpredictable events. Confusion or underestimation may lead to inaction.
    • numbness from complexity overload in today’s environments that we can no longer wholly grasp. Action is unlikely if a dangerous phenomenon or scenario is seen as not immediately causing personal difficulties
    • discounting, a well-known bias or tendency to undervalue future and distant risk
    • optimism bias: I’ll be fine. No, it won’t affect me. I will manage…  
    • fatalism: it’s out of my hands. There is nothing I can do …. confirmation bias: people tend to read and watch media that reinforces their beliefs rather than challenges and educates
    • time is money: when viewing their available time in monetary terms, people tend to skip careful preparedness planning and investments in resources/skills as there is no immediate and clear ‘return-on-investment’
    • perceived inability: preparedness may require extra resources including knowledge, skill or abilities not everyone possesses. Unless there is a physical or mental disability however, most people are capable to reach at least a minimum level of preparedness and connect to wider networks of community resilience

In the article, Richard goes on to discuss six more Dragon Families; i.e. ideologies, various belief systems that inhibit behaviour social comparison, three aspects of a deeply ingrained human tendency dis-credence, four ways of how people stop engaging when thinking ill of others limited behaviours, and …   

Dragon family ‘perceived risk’ – particularly relevant to preparedness

Perceptions linked to risks that may become particularly persistent ‘drag-ons of inaction’

    • Functional risk: will it work? For example: “The kit I just bought, can I rely on it?” You can if you bought it from us for our promise is “ If we stock it – You can depend on it in an emergency”. Functional risk at a personal level is trickier. The best answer is continuous training and active exercising of your preparedness plans
    • Physical risk: will I get hurt? Preparedness may involve special skills training so there may be certain risks.
    • Financial risk: rather than asking is it worth getting prepared and equipped ask “can I afford not to?”  
    • Social risk: other people may notice your commitment to preparedness and may tease although this is becoming less common. Nowadays understanding is growing and prepared people are becoming role models for community resilience.
    • Psychological risk: you may be teased or criticised for preparing – that is short term. You will, however, build confidence in your capacities and further your personal resilience – that is long term.
    • Temporal risk: the time you invest in planning and preparing may be seen as ‘failing to produce results’. That of course depends on what ‘results’ means to you but in preparedness this is most certainly never the case. Any and all preparedness efforts are never wasted and hopefully you will never have to test them all to the full.

 The good part in all this? All these inner/perceptual dragons of inaction can be slain. You’ve already started by simply reading and thinking about them. And so I leave you with an image of the quintessential Dragon Slayer St. George who is the patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece; and of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to SaintMark) and who has in recent years been adopted as patron saint of Scouts. source: https://web.archive.org/web/20160701211712/https://jbailey2013.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/wikimedia-st-_george_and_the_dragon.jpg Have a great week and good start to September – make it a Preparedness month for yourself, your loved ones and your wider communities. And if you want to delve a little deeper, watch this brilliant VIDEO by The Royal Society, an animation and briefing on unconscious bias adapted by Professor Uta Frith

Monika   thank you for sharing, raising awareness for Emergency Preparedness!

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Hazards and Risks – what’s the difference and why does it matter?

Last week I had an interesting and engaging conversation with a group of young people that were just starting to make their own Emergency Preparedness plans both for their families and their fledgling businesses when the topic of hazards and risks resulted in:

“… but risk is the same as hazard? How are they different?”

Indeed, it’s a common enough confusion, mostly because risk is often defined in terms of hazards so fuzzyness creeps in. Also, a number of different definitions and understandings exist, all depending on who you ask and what their frame of reference is. That does not help practical people that want clear guidance fast.

Luckily, I recently attended a brilliant conference on Risk and Disaster Reduction in London, the UCL IRDR 5th Annual Conference where Sir Mark Walport in his keynote speech on communicating risk and hazards gave an excellent example which I hope he won’t mind me passing on to you. The imagery he used was this:

source: https://www.kidssoup.com/sites/default/files/media/ploverbird-crocodile.jpg

What do you see? A massive hazard. But how about risk? What exactly do you know about the CONTEXT in the above?

How about now?

source http://www.newsiosity.com/sites/default/files/styles/flexslider_image/public/CrocTeeth.jpg?itok=LGwOT9ea

Well, better him than me I’d say for I’m not that brave but you certainly begin to see where this is going:

Talking about hazards is necessary but not sufficient

(as scientists love to point out) and that’s precisely why it matters to draw the distinction.

In order to build better preparedness and resilience, we need to continuously assess and monitor risk, meaning the probability or likelihood of (often complex) scenarios as well as the severity of impact over time. As per Sir Mark’s slide, this concerns

1506UCL-Walport

Professor Sir Mark Walport; Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of Government Science and Engineering Profession at UCL IRDR 2015

hazard: a source of harm or damage

threat: an intent or determination to inflict harm or damage

exposure: the condition of being exposed to harm or damage

vulnerability: the susceptibility to being harmed or damaged

uncertainty: current degree of knowledge as unknown or doubtful

 

To get a better idea what risk assessments and a risk matrix can look like

have a look at the National Risk Register 2015, page 11. Naturally, these high priority risks as currently identified by the UK government change and shuffle in line with the changing situation in the UK and around the world. Keep an eye on regularly published updates and consider the risks particular to your own environment and situation, also in line with any information your local resilience forum can provide. You may also find our extensive preparedness resources useful.

That’s exactly where I left the group of young entrepreneurs and family men and women. However, as with them I also want to stress here:

making a plan is necessary but not sufficient

for – and yes, you’ve heard it all beforeEmergency & Disaster Preparedness: Get a Kit - Make a Plan - Be InformedAnd finally, are you still curious about  The Crocodile and the Plover Bird? It’s a good story.

Have a great week!

Monika


thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Emergency Preparedness!

 

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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Preparedness for Power Cuts, Brownouts and Blackouts

updated 09/10/2017

Power failures are common in the wake of storms (BBC) and disasters, man-made or natural; for example floods (Telegraph) and drought (Brazil dries up and blacks out, 2015, Bloomberg) even UK mini heatwaves (Ashbourne News Telegraph). Also see South Australia’s Blackout explained (09/2016 black start)

Power outages can also occur without warning because of faults or accidents.

You may need to shelter-in-place and wait it out or you may have to evacuate (Feb 2015: Liverpool One John Lewis evacuated after power cut as restaurants unable to serve food, Liverpool Echo)

 

Power cuts are predicted to become more frequent, not only causing damage to the economy ($180 billion in the USA) but also affect transport, security and health (Lincoln University). Concerns and discussions on the UK energy safety gap are ongoing (Guardian).

2003 – a memorable year for spectacular power cuts

Looking back, 2003 was a particularly eventful year. In the US and Canada 55 million people were affected during the Great Northeast Blackout, 14th August 2003:   Fortunately, most power cuts last only minutes, but even such short durations can have a substantial impact on you personally as well as business. The London Blackout (28 August 2003) lasted just 34 minutes (BBC) during which  

        • 400 calls were taken by the London Fire Brigade
        • 100 rescues were made
        • all main rail services stopped in London and the South East
        • 60% of London Underground was affected

 If not stranded in lifts or underground, thousands of Londoners and visitors either took to the rain soaked streets or found shelter in candle lit pubs and restaurants. Outages not only happen in summer. They happen every day (DNO live twitter list) and can affect everyone. Most spectacularly and recently again London:

 

What is a Brownout? What to do during a Brownout

source: http://m.epandl.com/0_0_0_0_295_273_csupload_46955312.jpg?u=3094454775Brownouts, the opposite of a power surge, refer to a drop in voltage that can last for minutes or hours. Brownouts  commonly occur either by accident or intentional, for example, when used for emergency load reduction to avert a full blown a blackout.     Common signs of a brownout are      

                • flickering lights
                • rapid switching on/off of appliances
                • sudden computer and internet failure

 Usually harmless, brownouts nevertheless can damage your equipment so when you notice rapidly flickering lights, act immediately and unplug your computers, routers, TV, devices being charged, all appliances etc. During a Brownout, as soon as you notice fluctuations (i.e. when the lights start flickering badly)  

            • switch off and unplug computers, TVs, printers, routers, mobile phones, tablets or any other devices that are plugged in and/or charging
            • reduce your power consumption: switch off anything you do not need
            • be ready for a blackout in case your supply fails to stabilise source: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/71610000/jpg/_71610198_71610193.jpg

 

Preparedness for a Power Cut – follow these 10 top tips

Know your supplier and how to contact them. Suppliers often host a live power outage map and provide information and support also on twitter. The new emergency number for power cuts is 105 see guidance from your supplier; i.e. UK Power Networks’ Domestic and Business

          • make a checklist/map of all your electrical items that need turning OFF in case of a power cut
          • if you use crucial medical equipment requiring electricity, put yourself on your suppliers priority register
          • alternative communications: keep a plug-in cord telephone for emergencies that does not need electricity; stock spare batteries and power packs for mobile devices
          • alternative power: ranges from power generators to UPS devices (~ 1 hour), batteries and hand-crank or solar operated devices; more see generators

 

What to do during a Power Cut – NEW! CALL 105*

Is it just you? Check your fuse box to see if any have tripped – there could be a problem with your property’s wiring and you may need to call an electrician. If your neighbor is also affected, then call your local distribution company to find out if it’s a network problem. Normally, power cuts are locally or regionally based

          • switch OFF all appliances and equipment that may have been in use before the interrupt
          • leave one light switched on to know when the power is restored
          • secure your property; bells and alarms may not work during the outage (manual warning)

 

What to do when Power is restored

          • check all your equipment and appliances
          • only gradually turn your equipment and appliances back on, keeping an eye on possible fluctuations
          • check and and reset all timer switches; i.e. water heating, gas or oil central heating systems, electric clocks

Additional useful resources to understand what happens, the consequences of power cuts and what you must plan and prepare for and how to prepare for and cope with power outages:

      • list of major power outages wiki
      • electric safety HSE
      • will your landline work during a power cut? Ofcom

 Be prepared, not scared. Have a good week.

Monika | @MonikaAlMufti 

This page is also accessed by bit.ly/powercutUK   thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Emergency Preparedness!

 

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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