Sometimes, all the training in the world will not be enough to protect you during a disaster. There are times that as humans, we are helpless in the face of what some call ‘Acts of God’. It is in those moments: during earthquakes, bushfires and sometimes war, that we can only be as ready as one can be when facing the inevitable security problems that they bring.
Good security planning can help to prepare for the unexpected. These can include procedures for dealing with fires, data breaches or even active shooter events. Plans are also made for natural disasters, such as the often-publicised ‘Bush Fire Survival Plans’. Unlike a fire in a building, bush fires are difficult to predict and contain. Having a plan is the most one can do in the face of a raging force of nature.
Enforcing and maintaining security during (but most likely after) an earthquake is equally hard. States like California have created disaster management plans and training for their citizens in disaster survival. Once again, these procedures are designed to assist in the aftermath of an event. There is practically nothing that can prevent the inevitable security problems that an earthquake can cause.
One of the major security problems that disasters, natural or otherwise can create is that smaller problems are likely to arise quickly in the aftermath of the event. These might be power issues, damaged infrastructure or communications failures. Each problem has to be dealt with immediately otherwise it could trigger a domino effect of security failures. Likewise, these problems can repeat themselves with affected companies and individuals often patching up problems until the situation stabilises.
An organisations IT system may suffer from power outages or cables and servers may get damaged. Restoring accounts may also take some time in the event of a disaster. These are all some of the smaller security problems a company may have, aside from simply surviving a disaster and ensuring that people are safe. When there is an absence of structural order, such as during a natural disaster, people and property are always unsafe.
Nevertheless, writing up a disaster management policy is not a futile act. It is always good to apply a practical mindset to any security policy designed to deal with disasters. There are two things to keep in mind when writing up a security or disaster management policy or procedure:
Develop resilience – we cannot fight collapsing buildings, a fire, a missile strike, or a typhoon. But you can fight the panic, and the uncertainty that is created in a disasters wake. You cannot plan for every contingency, so it is important to train your security and emergency officers to be innovative when things go wrong.
In countries such as in South East Asia, where typhoons are common, the local population has developed a positive and community-oriented approach to dealing with the loss of homes, property and sometimes, life. In the case of a business, it is important to prioritise assisting employees or staff. By doing so, they are likely to be more capable of providing assistance in return to restore the business to its day-to-day activities.
Prioritise people first – it is likely that during the ensuing chaos of a disaster, someone is willing to take advantage of the situation to steal, damage or compromise a business’ property or data. Likewise, people are at risk of harm from the environment and sometimes, from others in a panicked or volatile situation. Security and emergency plans must always prioritise the safety of its employees first, even at the expense of its property, data or wealth. After all, without employees, a business doesn’t run.
Disaster planning is essential in business and in life in general, and we can only be so prepared in the face of natural or man-made disasters. Most of the time, we are left to mitigate or manage damage that cannot be reasonably prevented.
Being prepared, through training, policies and procedures is half of the battle. The other half is having an appropriate mindset to inform the actions we must take when implementing a security protocol, be it against terrorists, a hurricane or even Godzilla! Always remember that things can be restored and rebuilt, and that losses are inevitable.
For assistance in all forms of disaster planning, please do not hestitate to contact Agilient.
The Agilient Team