Last week we all bore witness to the tragic events that unfolded in Westminster which saw many innocent people killed and seriously injured in a lone terrorist attack.
As we watched the incident and the many images captured through the various media outlets how many of you asked the question ‘could that have been me’ or thought my family and I could have been caught up in that attack. How often had you walked that very same route but on a different time and day?
You may have thought that wouldn’t happen to me as I don’t travel to London. But we all know these types of incidents although rare can happen anytime at any moment as can be seen in London, France, Germany and Tunisia.
How would I have reacted? Could I have taken some preventative methods that might have saved not only my life but that of others?
We live in a different world from where we grew up, although a lot of us can remember the terrorist bombings by the IRA on the UK mainland. The heightened level of awareness and the numerous cordons set up by the Police and emergency services to the various unattended suspect packages seemed to be an everyday occurrence.
Though today’s terrorist attacks seem to employ far different tactics, using low tech high impact methods that target vulnerable locations and victims in an attempt to create mass casualties, ensure high levels of media coverage and turn communities against each other.
Those that are engaged in running a business:
- are you prepared for loss of services, your staff unable to get into work?
- Have your staff received any instruction on what to do in the event of a major incident do you consider an evacuation or invacuation? Are you aware of the differences?
As a leader in your business:
- have you got an up to date security plan?
- when was it last reviewed, have you even seen it?
- Is the security culture embraced by your staff?
- Is security an agenda item at your meetings with managers and staff?
Your staff that travels throughout the UK and abroad, do they receive formal security briefings on travel. Are they aware of what to do in an emergency and who they can contact for support?
We also see throughout our daily lives as we travel across London and the UK, various unaccompanied young people either on foot or by public transport. They are occasionally oblivious to their surroundings and often distracted by listening to music through headphones or absorbed in their smart phones. Are they prepared in what to do in the event of a major incident? Do their schools or parents prepare them for such an event, recognising the balance to be struck between putting them in fear and raising their awareness with basic personal safety advice?
Top tips for children include:
- stay with friends, teachers and parents if at all possible
- get away from the scene of a major incident as fast as possible
- seek assistance or help from a uniformed police officer or other uniformed body (i.e. TFL staff of uniformed security guards) or seeking assistance from a parent who might be with their own children.
- Call for help via your mobile phone, let people know where you are if possible (mobile phones may have been disabled by security services)
- Consider having their identity details on their person if injured or disorientated.
- Know places of safety to find refuge and to make contact in the event their mobile phone is missing or unusable.
Staff travel or travelling with family members, have you researched your destination properly? Can you identify safe places within your hotel to stay safe? Have you briefed your children on a prearranged location if you get separated? Have you a got a ‘grab bag’ with you if you need to escape.
We live in a different world but our company, that has extensive experience in providing security awareness consultancy and training, can help. We have provided numerous large companies, institutions, charities, schools and colleges with training and advice around planning and responding to a major incident or terrorist attack.