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.
“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:
The likelihood of dying at the hands of a terrorist is comparable to the odds of drowning in one’s own bathtub.https://t.co/YfIDW3fLl6
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:
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…
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Building community resilience means building group solidarity and the connection between this, faith organisations and charities is well known.
Elsewhere I’ve written about Resilience – drawing on Faith for Strength and how faith organisations including places of worship could play an increasingly active role in preparedness. How effective responses from faith organisations are, especially in times of crisis, emergency or disaster is clear: often they are the first on the ground lending assistance and giving aid. In some instances, this is not unproblematic, however, as my counter terrorism colleagues will appreciate for the provision of aid and welfare can also lead to creating a so called ‘enabling environment’ for extremist groups. Maybe this is part of the reason why some of those who really are doing good unconditionally and purely from a humanitarian point-of-view have such a hard time. Maybe it’s simply because some of them look a little different.
Meet Ravi Singh:
Dear Western World: Wherever SIKHS go we enrich Society! We are NOT ISIS! We are humanitarians and not murderers! pic.twitter.com/ZWo2E8Nar7
I absolutely DETEST those who impose conditional aid !! If you are a true humanitarian then you serve those in need unconditionally. — ravinder singh (@RaviSinghKA) September 4, 2016
Khalsa Aid has a long and outstanding track record of providing aid not only internationally, but also – yes you are hearing correctly – here in the UK.
“This is our community, these are our countrymen who are in dire need. I never knew the amount of devastation until we drove around to get to this place, we had to go several different routes and it’s amazing. The floods … the fields are like lakes. It’s unbelievable, how will they recover from this disaster? I think we all need to pull together; it’s very very important. ”
“The impact of the floods in the north of England and Scotland has been enormous. Yet the disaster has brought together people who might never normally mix – from the armies of Sikh and Muslim volunteers to the individuals sending care parcels.”
The image in The Guardian article How the floods united the north from which the above quote is taken, shows volunteers from Khalsa Aid, giving out food to villagers in the flood-hit Lancashire village of Croston.
…. and in July 2016 they were handing out water to stranded motorists during a heatwave
So, why am I telling you all this? While absolutely brilliant, it simply should not come to this in the first place. Not today, in the 21st century and not in the UK, a first world country.
What is to be done?
Places of worship as centres for community resilience
This approach is already happening in North Yorkshire. Last year the North Yorkshire Resilience Forum created a successful evidence-based model approach which you can read more about in UK Community Resilience, a brilliant example of what works. It is my and other people’s sincere hope that in the future this kind of forward thinking, pro-active model will be supported and made available much more widely across many parts of the UK. It is also my hope that eventually such models will tackle and include food security issues.
Places of worship are important for another reason: security
While certainly a step in the right direction, the funding scheme is sadly limited to securing property, rather than people. Being rooted in (hate) crime prevention thinking, this is not surprising. What a brilliant opportunity this could be to broaden capacities and capabilities!
Places of worship, similar to schools, feature as areas of refuge and shelter-in-place on many an emergency planner’s community emergency plan. Why not also provide the wider resources needed to to communities so that they can respond in a major incident, emergency or disaster? I leave you with this question on this hottest September days since 1911 and also with a link to our newest information hub for places of worship evaq8.co.uk/PlacesOfWorship
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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.
thank you for sharing, raising awareness for School Resilience and Emergency Preparedness!
Often 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
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
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)
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
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.
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This blog post is also accessed by http://bit.ly/lock-down.