Magazine

A Minor Inconvenience or a Major Disaster?

Safety and security go beyond simple rules and drills in a post-9/11 world. Recent events in the Middle East and the UK, plus natural disasters and pandemic events remind us that the safety of our organizations is an all-encompassing process.
Emergency management is important to all organizations, whether educational, municipal or private sector. The parking operation is a large factor in that, but not the only one. In the coming months, Parking Today - along with University of Texas Associate Vice President Robert Harkins - will address the issues of safety and security and how they can be managed by your organization.
First, we will discuss the events that will cause safety and security plans to go into effect. The second aspect of the discussion is the Safety and Security Committee and the different aspects that need to be considered. The development of a safety and security plan will be the third topic we will
consider. Editor

The Events
The four major events that could trigger a safety and security plan include terrorism, natural disasters, pandemics and technology attacks.

Terrorism
Terrorism could be of any type, whether global in scale - a weapon of mass destruction, for instance, or a sniper holed up taking shots at everything in sight. Nothing appears to be immune to terrorism, as we have seen. High schools, university campuses, community centers, post offices, office complexes, subways, airlines, trains - virtually anyplace where people congregate can be targets.
The perpetrators can be of any type, from a single individual working alone to a complex cell of well-trained, committed zealots whose long-term goals transcend the event at hand.
How we react to each terrorist event will be discussed in the "security plan" section of this report; however, suffice it to say that the reaction will differ depending on the level and size of the threat.

Natural Disasters
By definition, this event can be the most devastating as a matter of scale (a tornado, earthquake, hurricane). With the exception of an earthquake, notice can be given - sometimes up to days ahead - and plans can be put into effect. This can greatly mitigate the potential for loss of life. With earthquakes, there are many pre-event actions that can help lessen potential loss.
Geography makes a big difference in planning. For instance, there's little need to plan for a hurricane in Idaho, or for a weeklong snowstorm in South Florida.

Pandemic Events
Flu and other pandemics can be rampant where large groups of people are placed in close quarters. Even in an age of modern medicine, they can be deadly. Our reliance on science has made us complacent in this area. We have eradicated polio and smallpox; shouldn't the flu be close behind? Unfortunately, it's not that easy. New strains, resistant to current remedies, are being discovered all the time. We rely on government agencies to keep us informed and to provide the beginnings of programs to help prevent the spread of disease in our organizations. There is much, however, we can do on our own.

Technology Attacks
Whether a lone hacker going after his report card or a terrorist group attempting to destroy all of your organization's computer files, technology attacks can be serious. Some hackers see it as a game. For others, it can be seen only as cyber-terrorism. Can hackers break into your computer system? The answer: yes, someone can. Your goal is to make it so difficult that it's not worth the time or expense.
The safety and security of your organization in a complex world are tantamount to keeping your mission on course. Whether it's teaching the young, ministering to the sick, serving a meal, selling a product or parking a car, minimizing the disruption of your mission is just good practice.
Good planning and training can make the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major disaster.

Next month: The Safety and Security Committee - what it does and how it works.

Robert Harkins, Ed.D., is Associate Vice President Campus Safety and Security for the University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at bharkins@austin.utexas.edu

Sidebar:

The Three Aspects of Safety and Security:
The Events
* Terrorism
* Natural Disasters - Severe Weather, Earthquake, Wildfire, Tornado, Ice and Snowstorms
* Pandemics (Trigger Points, Responsibilities)
* Technology attacks (Data Security)

The Safety and Security Committee
* Safety and Security
* Power Outages
* Hackers
* Pedestrian Safety
* Building Evacuation
* Warning, Specific Tasks, Mass Sheltering of Evacuees
* Alarms
* Trigger Points, Responsibilities
* Emergency Lighting
* Security Awareness

The Emergency Management Plan
* Phases of Emergency Management (Mitigation / Preparedness / Response / Recovery)
* Levels of Response
* State of Readiness Conditions (Normal, Increased, High, Maximum)
* Types of Events / Incidents
* Situations and Assumptions (Probability of Occurrence and Impact on Health & Safety / Property & Environment)
* Command and Control (Organization / Facilities / ICS)
* Organizational Assignment of Responsibilities
* State / Local / Federal Assistance
* Communications (Types / Matrix)
* Administration and Support

Article Abstract from September, 2006




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