DYNAMIQ IN THE NEWS: THE INCREASING RISK OF TERROR - WHAT ORGANISATIONS CAN DO TO PREPARE
Dynamiq CEO, Daniel Pritchard
The latest disrupted twin terror plots in Australia, one involving the bombing of a passenger plane and the other a potential poison gas attack, have been described by the Australian Federal Police as "one of the most sophisticated terror plots attempted on Australian soil".
ASIO has warned the risk of mass casualty attacks are as high as ever.
Since September 2014 there have been four terrorist attacks and 13 disrupted terrorist plots. Nearly all of these incidents occurred in Sydney or Melbourne. Australia's National Terrorism Threat Level remains probable and security arrangements for mass gatherings in Australia have been reviewed.
In wide sweeping changes to Australia’s national security laws announced in July, the Australian Defence Force will be given the ability to deploy forces and even take charge during terrorist attacks.
The Australian Government has also announced the creation of a UK-style department of home affairs to combine the strengths of its security agencies. The department will be responsible for ASIO, the Australian federal police, Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, and the Office of Transport Authority.
As the Australian Government updates its response to the increasing terror threat, organisations and their insurance advisers should be proactive in preparing for and responding to the evolving styles of terror risk.
Preparing for a critical incident
You can’t prepare for every type of incident but it’s important your people know what to do in an emergency.
In addition to a terrorist attack, your plan should cover other crisis scenarios such as physical or sexual assault, a serious vehicle accident, flood, major fire and the serious injury or death of a staff member.
Having a well-thought-out set of procedures is invaluable during the chaos of an incident. Team structures, and their roles and responsibilities are also important. Managing the situation and stakeholders, effectively assessing a situation and communicating properly all takes time so you need to delegate these responsibilities across your crisis management team.
Preparations at home
While having a plan is important, training and preparation is key. Not having appropriate training for your staff will leave you open to increased business interruption, reputational damage and potential litigation in the aftermath of a critical incident. Helping your staff to build an agile mindset helps when managing a wide range of potential scenarios.
As a preparatory step, we often advise organisations to conduct active shooter incident training at their offices. Unlike some other critical events, an active shooter incident will be highly unpredictable due to a continuously moving threat. The training will test a range of competencies, including immediate actions to be taken, lock down and evacuation procedures. This type of scenario builds individual competency, a critical component of your teams effectiveness, due to the lack of time available to make team based decisions.
Preparations for your mobile workforce
Preparing your travelling employees, expatriates and their dependants for the possibility of a terror incident, at home or abroad, should be part of every organisation’s travel safety procedures and training.
Having two-way communications with a backup option, to warn your travellers of impending risks is paramount. Travel tracking systems have come a long way in recent years and now do much more than track pre-booked travel services. An emergency operations centre can now fully integrate with a range of satellite phone and tracking devices enabling round-the-clock welfare checks, two-way updates and a quicker medical or security response to an individual’s situation.
Your people need to understand the inherent risks, including terror risk, in the locations in which they’re travelling. For low-risk locations, this might be in the form of a country-specific information email along with some tips for managing medical and security risks.
For people heading to high-risk or complex risk areas, organisations must ensure their management team and travellers are properly trained and prepared to respond to issues within hostile environments. This includes knowing what to do when faced with an extortion attempt, specific threat, kidnap for ransom, or a terror incident such as a vehicle-born assault or mass event.
Well-trained staff and an approach to planning that keeps pace with current global and regional realities will help ensure you are well-prepared for almost any critical incident and able to quickly respond and recover.
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