This may make you envious, but I was lucky enough to participate in a fire evacuation drill recently. It was an interesting and thought provoking experience. Really. Stick with me for a minute…….

It was a drill and people knew very quickly that it was a drill, actually some people knew beforehand that the drill was coming. The fact that the marshalls were all in exactly the right places, doing all the right things and all the right kit and equipment was just where it needed to be also confirmed this was a drill. Relax everyone. Take your time.

Personally I firmly believe in practising such processes and capturing the lessons. I know some people don’t like the inconvenience to their day but most colleagues filed out in an orderly fashion following the procedure and the directions given. I couldn’t help thinking that if flames and smoke had been visible the behaviours would have been very different.

So as we gathered at the muster point, taking in the fresh air and sunshine, surrounded by colleagues chatting to one another or on their mobile devices a couple of us got into a discussion about ‘what if this was for real, what if it was clear we were not getting back into the building?’

Under drill conditions it’s easy for an air of complacency to develop but…….…..what if? How comfortable is your organisation in kick starting your Crisis and Business Continuity response under evacuation conditions? Some of you are already thinking about your next exercise aren’t you?

As we looked around the muster point and the crowd of people enjoying the break from their day, the following challenges came to mind:-

  • How easy would it be to find the Crisis Team members amongst the crowd?
  • How would we convene the team?
  • Could the team kick start the process under such circumstances?
  • Could the team manage communications?
  • Would the team be able to provide the required level of support to our people?

Basic questions I hear you say, but believe me, without an established process, an established protocol and practice the challenges are not as easy to overcome as you think.

Exercising such a scenario can also be very interesting but more importantly very realistic. Time and time again teams turn up for exercises in meeting rooms or command centres with all the facilities they need laid out before them. For sure, some team members turn up in the mind set of ‘here I am, entertain me’ or ‘this is my fifth meeting of the day, what’s this one about?’ or even ‘I must speak to my PA about declining this %&*$.’

By putting your teams through their paces you will learn there are some simple steps you can take to prepare for such situations and believe me they are well worth implementing.

Additionally, an exercise that is different, and which takes your teams out of their normal comfort zone has to be a good thing. Give it a try. Good luck.

September 6, 2015 at 7:21 pm
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Category: Crisis Management, Training & Exercising
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