Tag Archives: Risk Management

Emergency Preparedness UK: security and safety update June 2017

Wow! Two really good things happened this week for emergency preparedness, addressing both safety and security. First, the @EPCollege published @HasisD ‘s  report on what the UN Disaster Risk Reduction Sendai Framework means for (local!!) UK practitioners which really opens up the debate (PDF)

… and today, just four days after the London Bridge attack, the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) issued new official safety guidance for crowded places which includes a substantial section on personal safety.

 

In their guidance, NaCTSO writes

“No-one has more responsibility for your personal security than you.”

Naturally, security and safety go hand in hand and so in my view this statement applies across the board to include all risks, not just terrorism. Actually, the risk from terrorism, viewed objectively and rationally, plays just a very small role. Consider:

“On an average day, terrorists kill 21 people worldwide. On that same average day, natural or technological disasters kill 2,200 people – or more than 100 times as many.”

The more ‘clear and present danger’ lies elsewhere. As my earlier post Prepare for a world that’s more than 2° C warmer discusses, there is a different elephant in the room. A new study that assessed potential future climate damage to major European coastal cities projects that annual economic losses may range up to 40 billion $ by 2100 (based on worst emission scenario, which we’re heading into rather fast).   For the UK, sadly, this will continue to look more and more like this:  

So, what is to be done? Well, actually there is a lot that anyone can do. In this blog, we specifically talk about personal and community preparedness, capabilities which means skills and training and capacities which means practical tools and equipment. Key posts here to look at are:

Disaster Preparedness – what disaster, why preparedness?

Resilience and Preparedness Roadblocks: what stops us?

Community Resilience Building Blocks – it all starts with prepared individuals

Be prepared – not scared!

Monika

edit to add: also just out now is the JRF’s report: “Present and future flood vulnerability, risk and disadvantage: A UK scale assessment” This report is of particular interest to community resilience. It highlights how flood risks interact with social vulnerability across the UK to create flood disadvantage, an issue which will be exacerbated by climate change. Today some 6.4 million people live in flood prone areas, with around 1.5 million of these people living in vulnerable neighbourhoods (which include people on low incomes, with poor health and other factors that means floods are likely to have more negative impacts…

 

For more Resilience Blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For more on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the 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 for sharing!

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The 2016 National Flood Resilience Review for the time-pressed: UK Flooding, what you need to know

updated 02/11/2016

“We need to recognise that there is a non-negligible chance that we will see further events (flooding) of a similar, or maybe even greater, scale over the next decade.” (Executive summary)

Sadly, awareness of the seriousness of flooding is very thin on the ground. Just 6-8% of people actually living with flood risk know they are vulnerable, a figure that has not changed much since 2014 according to the Environment Agency’s @johncurtinEA.

That was households. What about business? For small businesses that make up 99% of the UK economy, it turns out that SME’s ‘prefer’ to react rather than pro-actively engage in business continuity and business preparedness as discussed recently during @TheFloodExpo . Dr Jessica Lamond (CFCR UWE)  showed that, sadly, SMEs are not pro-active (despite this making a lot of business sense), taking active steps only after having been flooded – twice! Even after measures are taken, actual preparedness is just at 60%. These are stark figures.

 

In September  the @cabinetofficeuk with @DefraGovUK under the leadership of  @andrealeadsom and with input from @uksciencechief published the National Flood Resilience Review. It charts the immense work undertaken by @EnvAgency and @metoffice in the wake of the devastating 2015/16 floods, lessons learnt and ways forward for better resilience nationwide.

For those of you who are time pressed or disinclined to read the full report, here are some key points important for household and business preparedness:

UK Flooding: money matters

  • £2.3 billion will be spent over the next six years from 2015- 2021 to strengthen flood and coastal defences with a particular focus on better protecting 300,000 homes
  • recovery packages handled by local authorities are currently in place for homes, businesses and farms in areas of Northern England affected by the 2015/6 floods
  • Flood Re has been established to ensure that households can continue to obtain affordable flood insurance (schemes for small business are being discussed; source: FloodExpo)

UK Flooding: severe weather and more frequent, stronger storms

  • the intensity of recent storms is unusual, but not unprecedented
  • a comprehensive study of trends (1871-2010) shows a robust signal of increasing numbers of strong winter storms and with increasing intensity for the high latitude North Atlantic; further south over the mid-latitude North Atlantic (ie the path of the storms that affected the UK in winter 2013/14) signal are more complex. Although the number of strong winter storms has not increased since 1871, storm mean intensity has increased. Notably, for very strong storms, the mean intensity has increased significantly. However, results are not conclusive and there remains substantial scientific debate about the behaviour of the North Atlantic jet stream and the storms that form along it.

UK Flooding: extreme rain fall, extreme tidal scenarios, sea level rise

  • rainfall depends on geography, the west receiving ten times more rain than the east of the UK; England and Wales is divided into six climate regions
  • based on robust analysis, the Met Office concludes that winter monthly rainfall totals could plausibly be 20% higher than recent past extremes in some parts of the country and up to 30% higher than recent past extremes in other parts
  • seasonal variability: winter flows have increased in upland, western catchments; autumn flows have increased in Central England and parts of Eastern Scotland. There is no apparent pattern of change in summer flows across the UK
  • high winter flows have increased over the last 30 years and there has been an increase in the frequency and magnitude of flooding over the same period, particularly in the West and North.  However, as with rainfall, longer records demonstrate that there are flood-rich and flood-poor periods in the hydrological record. Reconstruction of floods from sediment records suggests some very large floods in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • sea level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12cm during the 20th century; this is over and above the increases associated with sinking of the southern part of the UK due to isostatic adjustment from the last Ice Age; this increases the risk of coastal flooding and tidal locking. A further overall 11-16cm of sea level rise is likely by 2030, relative to 1990
  • the Environment Agency’s Extreme Flood Outlines (EFO) have been stress-tested and found to be a reliable way to identify areas at risk from extreme river and coastal flooding over the next ten years
  • the risk of extreme river flows resulting in a severe flood are not unusual but the probability of this occurring is low
  • the 2016 National Risk Assessment (confidential document) for the first time differentiates fluvial and surface water flood risk in place of a single ‘inland flood risk’, allowing a better targeted approach to planning and management (NRR Civil Emergencies)

Limitations of scientific models

  • statistical analysis used to produce the report assumes that the probability of flooding has not changed significantly over time, for example because of  changes in land use, climate change or other climatic variations
  • interestingly climate change was not identified as a factor, so called ‘natural variability’ dominating extreme rainfall scenarios ; but there was consensus that the techniques used should be developed further to explore a fuller range of possible events
  • the variable nature of regional/local weather and rainfall plus the complexities of terrain and catchments mean that any results are indicative only and cannot describe all settings
  • the next set of UK Climate Projections due to be published in 2018 (UKCP18)

 

UK flooding: critical national infrastructure and the private sector

We depend on a secure supply of services such as electricity, telecommunications, water, healthcare and transport. Many are delivered by the private sector. Government, sector regulators and industries are working together to ensure security of supply across the 13 CNI (critical national infrastructure) sectors (more, see CPNI). The loss of local services during the winter floods 2015/6 meant that, for the first time, individual sector-by-sector assets at risk from flooding were identified.   The complex inter-dependencies between sectors continue to be investigated.

  • 1640 potentially vulnerable national infrastructure asset sites serving a (pragmatically determined) population threshold range from 10,000 to 25,000 have been identified, most  of which were deemed ‘defended’
  • 530 key infrastructure sites around the country are currently vulnerable to flooding (again within the 10,000-25,000 threshold)
  • infrastructure sectors are at different stages in the resilience building process, some have yet to complete their analysis. Losing electricity or hospitals are particularly acute ‘worst case’ scenarios impacting communities
  • the electricity industry will invest £250 million (2015-2021) to protect the network against flooding; sites serving more than 10,000 people which are not protected against an extreme flood have been surveyed and have a plan in place to deploy temporary barriers if required and feasible
  • work with the water industry to extend analysis to cover all relevant water assets (clean and waste) serving more than 10,000 people continues
  • transport is vulnerable, investments are under way
    • Network Rail is planning to spend £900 million over the next three years
    • Highways England plans to invest £78 million over the next five years to reduce the risk of flooding on major roads, and a further £300 million as part of its Road Investment Strategy
    • Gatwick Airport following flood-related disruption in December 2013, commissioned an independent review of its vulnerability to flooding and is allocating a further £10 million above and beyond the original £20 million investment in flood resilience over the next 2 years
    • the Department for Transport promote closer working between ports and Local Resilience Forums to improve overall awareness of, and preparation for, severe flooding and port resilience groups are being set up along the East Coast

(thankfully health and safety is much stricter in the UK)

UK flooding: temporary flood defenses

Permanent flood defenses are clearly preferable to temporary defenses. In some instances, however, permanent solutions either do not offer value for money or cannot improve the situation before next winter. Therefore temporary defenses play an immediate role in strengthening the resilience of local infrastructure: temporary barriers do not provide the same level of protection as permanent defenses; failure rates typically are 20-30%, although this can be reduced by good advanced planning

      • no type of temporary barrier is universally deployable in all situations, and generally they cannot withstand large wave action. All leak to a certain extent and therefore need to be supplemented by pumps (annex 8 illustrates a range of temporary flood defenses such as tube, filled container, frame barrier, flexible free standing and rigid free standing)

 

      • once installed, successful ongoing deployment requires additional support including security against theft and vandalism as well as health and safety measures such as lighting and access maintenance to surrounding homes and businesses

 

      • thorough site-specific pre-planning as well as the availability of sufficient numbers of trained staff or volunteers is critical to success (as are training exercises)

 

      • engineered hard flood defenses can only ever be part the solution. Benefits of natural flood management has been seen ie in Pickering, North Yorkshire and Holnicote in Somerset. The Government’s future 25 year plan for the environment will look at strengthening the role of local partners, bringing them together to integrate flood management with water planning at a catchment level.

 

 

UK flooding: improving incidence response

  • £12.5 million are being invested through the Environment Agency in temporary flood barriers, mobile water pumps and incident command vehicles – stored in strategic locations across the country for fast response
  • £0.75 million are being invested to provide maintenance grants to enable nationally deployable flood rescue teams to maintain their equipment
  • a single register of national flood response assets will be kept up to date and will be viewable through ResilienceDirect; developing new capabilities in line with responders’ requirements.
  • an operations centre will be established (as identified in the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015) bringing together relevant organisations, including the armed forces
  • Defra in collaboration with other government departments will establish a standard operating model for local responders and the Environment Agency will work with Local Resilience Forums to identify opportunities to embed good practice in their flood response plans

 

UK flooding: flood defense and urban development

  • ultimate aim is to deliver flood defense levels for the Core Cities similar to that of London, Sheffield is the pilot project which, if successful will be broadened to the other core cities

 

The National Flood Resilience Review also contains interesting case studies in annex 4 which you may be interested to read especially if you are in or near to Carlisle, Calder Valley, Oxford, Exeter, Great Yarmouth, London (Teddington to Thames Barrier).   References

Much excellent work continues across the country including the setting up of local Flood Action Groups, Community Resilience Projects (i.e NYLRF) and flood prevention excercises such as

However, it also pays to be better prepared.There is a lot that can be done. If your’re an individual start at our preparedness hub, if you’re a small business start at business preparedness. Addition: EFRA report, Future flood prevention; Second Report of Session 2016–17

Be prepared, not scared.

Have a good week.

Monika     thank you for sharing, 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

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


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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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Business Resilience – Business Continuity – What does it mean?

Resilient Business, Business Continuity, Risk Management – all are big buzzwords reverberating around cyberspace with renewed vigour these last weeks. Interestingly, the more I read the more I realize just how fragmented the discussions are and how these terms seem to mean very different things to different people. No wonder it is all quite confusing.

Risk Management versus Business Continuity Management, what’s the difference?

Source: http://www.esri.com/news/arcuser/0405/graphics/comstat_1a_lg.gifBusiness Continuity Management or BCM is often treated as a subset of risk management. Up to a point this holds, for in Risk Management (ISO 31000) risk identification is the first key step in risk assessment that leads to the selection of appropriate risk treatments based on the best available information. Problems arise here, however, when ‘best available information’ is not good enough or absent. This is often the case in today’s world of complex and often hidden or fast developing threats both man-made and natural disasters.

Being able to select risk treatments for unpredictable incidents and disasters is the great strength of Business Continuity Management.

Simply identifying risks and producing a plan – Risk Management – is not enough – not for Resilient Business

The original definition of Business Continuity Management recognizes that BCM is more than just writing a Business Continuity Plan:

A ‘holistic’ management process that identifies potential threats to an organization and the impacts to business operations that those threats, if realized, might cause and which provides a framework for building organization resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value-creating activities.’

I concur with Andrew Hiles (The definitive Handbook of Business Continuity, 2010) in that this 53 word definition, while appearing comprehensive is rather long and difficult to understand, lacking clarity in what exactly is meant by ‘holistic’ and ‘organization resilience’.

However, Hiles’ own attempt at a more user-friendly reductionist definition of BCM as ‘Preparing an organization to deal with incidents that might otherwise prevent it from achieving its operational objectives’ has in my view been stripped entirely of meaning which is perhaps why he finds it necessary to add two explanatory notes neither of which seems to add more practical insight. He qualifies first, that it is a management process that identifies the potential impacts of disruptions and provides the means for coping with their consequences and second, that preparing includes taking measures to reduce the likelihood and impact of incidents.

Business Continuity Definitions, while important, are limiting by their very nature

Rather than getting embroiled in minutiae or distracted by exactly where Business Continuity Management belongs – some recent authors seem to think BCM only encompasses aspects of IT issues such as cyber threats, I take the practical connectionist stance that Business and therefore Business Continuity cannot be seen in isolation. This brings my viewpoint back to interpreting the ‘holistic’ and ‘resilience’ aspect of the original definition. However, rather than going off on some metaphysical discourse as you might expect at this point let me emphatically state that in its essence ‘holistic’ ought to be intensely simple and practical. In Business, as elsewhere, ‘resilience’ is not a lofty metaphysical concept but is firmly grounded in daily life, in the skills, resources and connections of people. Resilient people bounce forward.

source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/ec/18/04/ec18046b2128f40323387efc8a99c080.jpg

Today I came across an article on ‘Employer’s Focus on employees’ mental wellbeing‘.

Jennifer Paterson mentions diverse organizations such as Anglian Water, law firm Browne Jacobson , Microsoft and Marks and Spencer implementing staff well-being initiatives which made me smile and think ‘this is a huge step in the right direction’.

People are physical, mental and emotional beings, all aspects that holistically integrate into making personal resilience.

Resilient People = Resilient Business.

They are inseparable.

Perhaps there is hope that

  • A holistic management process that identifies potential threats to an organization’ will gradually come to mean ‘a mindful management that recognizes and furthers the individual resources of its people’

After all

  • ‘Effective responses that safeguard the interests of key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value-creating activities’ can only be delivered by (obviously well spoken – tongue in cheek) people that are resilient which is a complex mix of many factors as I have explored (and will continue to explore) in this blog.

… but back to Business Continuity Management…

Of course there needs to be management, Business Continuity is too vital an element of resilience at all levels (local to international) to simply be left to chance. While BS ISO 22301 Business Continuity Management System certainly is a valuable framework, it is also perhaps overly complex and bogged down with jargon thus putting it out of reach for many otherwise astute Businesses. On the other side of the spectrum is the well-meaning but rather unfortunately titled book by the Cabinet Office ‘Business Continuity for Dummies’ (2012) with its overly ‘soft’ approach. There’s also a short video:

However, Business people by their very nature are anything but dummies. Is there nothing else, no nuanced approach?

Active Programmes are better than Passive Guidelines

Rather than more books and guidelines, perhaps a more practical approach can be taken in line with another recent innovation that made me smile today (Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service): the Prince’s Trust ‘Get Started Programme’ aimed at helping young people experience and practice Emergency Preparedness.

Now just imagine that but as an active BCM training programme for small and medium size Business that includes simplified and flexible planning and – of course – Business Continuity Kits. Apologies for the shameless plug but there is real and practical resilience in what we do so do have a look around while you’re here. You will find a large range of real value-for-money ready-made Emergency, Disaster and Business Continuity Kits or – if you’re a fan of the Goldilocks Principle ‘just right’ like us – see our Custom-Made section for tailor made practical Business Continuity Solutions.

Wishing you a resilience-building week and thank you for stopping by and don’t miss our resources on Business Preparedness.

Monika


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

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