Without Incident

Techniques to more effectively cope with emergencies

Incident management is a process that includes an organization’s ability to detect, identify, verify, analyze, respond to and control incidents, events and hazards, while coordinating resources. Defined as occurrences that have or might have a negative impact on the continuity of routine operations, incidents may occur in any organization, public facility or business entity. Therefore, incident management must minimize the disruption of operations and restore normal procedures as quickly as possible, allowing seamless operational continuity and minimum practical and reputational damage.

Incidents comprise a variety of events, whether manmade, natural phenomena or a failure of various systems. The nature of their causes could be quite diverse: from security, such as terrorist attacks and bomb threats; civilian and criminal threats, such as burglar intrusion, theft or riots; engineering and facility management threats, such as fire, burst water pipes and electricity problems; and the threats of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and floods.

Information Overload
Today’s command and control centers are overwhelmed with information from a plethora of sensors and devices. The challenge facing an organization both in routine operation and in times of emergency is how to rapidly and efficiently process enormous amounts of data from a wide variety of sources, allowing immediate assessment of action and effective decision-making. It is important to reduce information overload on security and safety management personnel by getting the right information to the right person at the right time.

The ability to regain operational continuity following a crisis or an incident, either locally or at the corporate level, depends strongly on the preparation and readiness of key staff. Incident management must successfully incorporate four essential phases:

• Planning—constructing emergency and recovery plans and optimizing deployment of sensors, based on realistic simulations of threat scenarios

• Training—ensuring that all staff, whether executives or employees, know how to carry out the appropriate emergency plan

• Responding—identifying emergency situations and carrying out the correct response, according to rehearsed plans

• Debriefing—learning from the real-time response what improvements to procedures and equipment are required.

Planning Phase
Each organization should clearly define security and safety requirements. It should optimally deploy the various necessary devices, such as sensors and cameras, in the most efficient and optimal way, ensuring maximum coverage of each device while saving unnecessary procurement costs.

Analyzing security gaps and evaluating the quality of security layouts is a complicated task. Today, most planning is done manually, without the benefit of computer technology. However, using a 3-D, GIS model of the organization’s site, Rontal’s SimGuard incident management system, for example, allows virtual installation of numerous kinds of sensors and provides a vulnerability assessment, as well as an ability to conduct various advanced simulations.

Organizational preparation for handling emergencies begins with a threat and behavioral analysis, during which it is necessary to map and analyze relevant potential threats. In addition, possible responses should be planned, building a complete spectrum of scenarios around various threats and their impacts. Organization managers and CEOs, who are responsible for the security and safety of employees and for business continuity, must have confidence that the emergency event is managed coherently and cohesively according to emergency procedures. These managers also must stay informed as to the key strategic decision points of the response and their major consequences.

The plans should address occurrences of various incidents involving security, safety and facility management, as well as natural disasters and production system failures, and should include recovery. For example, in a case where evacuation is required, the planner should define preferred evacuation routes for different threats, identify areas with high bottleneck potential, project the length of each evacuation method and evaluate them empirically. SimGuard enables planners to conduct a variety of simulations to build the best recovery plan. Using realistic 3-D modeling combined with advanced algorithms for the analysis of crowd behavior, planners receive essential data for better results, such as data regarding crowd behavior, time calculations and areas with high risks of bottlenecks.

Training Phase
The main aim of training is to achieve a high level of preparedness and relevant knowledge among executives and employees to ensure that planned procedures are executed correctly in emergencies. Training sessions and drills should be held frequently. The organization must conduct mission rehearsals, which increase the productivity of drills. Organizations usually face two main problems: first, conducting those drills often requires both time and resources. Second, to be truly effective in emergency situations, security managers must train in the same area and conditions as a real-time emergency event.

Training based on simulations of reallife experiences is the critical factor for establishing a high level of expertise and organizational preparedness for incidents. The executive staff is trained to assess emergency situations and make the most efficient decisions to ensure business continuity. In complex organizations, it is essential for the management to track the qualification level of all personnel, from security managers to security controllers and floor marshals. A methodology that monitors the performance level of all trainees based on computer- based tools is highly desirable.

In SimGuard, for example, the training phase includes a series of simulated incidents using 3-D models, allowing both security teams and staff to gain an early understanding of security and safety situations and how they might develop before they occur. SimGuard allows online drills for controllers and offline mission rehearsals for staff training. In addition, the supervisors get a periodical report on the actual level of knowledge and performance of the trainees.

Real-time Events
Emerging technologies over the past few years have increased the complexity of command and control centers. Operators are overwhelmed with information from an array of sensing devices. The human mind cannot possibly process all the information appearing on banks of monitors; furthermore, it cannot always comprehend the implication of several events happening simultaneously.

When an incident occurs, the organization must first ascertain that it is a real incident and not a false alarm. The number of false alarms should be kept to a minimum. The relevant executives should immediately achieve a high level of situational awareness, and an assessment of the immediate consequences of the incident should be made.

To enable precise and immediate situation awareness, the multiple security and safety systems should be connected to a single unified situation monitoring system, allowing decision-makers to receive a complete picture from all available sensors and systems. Each sensor covers a narrow area, and a comprehensive situational picture requires a combined display based on the different outputs of the various devices.

Operators should immediately determine the threat level and have a clear orientation of the threat location. They also should identify the correlation between discrete events and understand the impact of each threat on specific areas and people. During incidents, decision-makers should know the location of the response teams and key personnel relative to the zone of interest. They also must be able to provide situational awareness to the field person in charge. A common language between the security and safety manager and the mobile forces is critical for efficient and effective intervention. In SimGuard, for example, this is accomplished using a PDA-based handheld extension to the main system. SimGuard gathers information from all available sensors, fusing and presenting it on one 3-D display of the site. This display enables the operator to understand rapidly the implications of an incident, identify the relevant scenario from the scenario library and predict the potential impact on site operations.

When managing an emergency event, remember that the first few minutes are the most critical. The response time should be very short, preventing the problem from escalating.

Debriefing Phase
In-depth debriefing of security and safety incidents, including the distribution of findings throughout the organization, greatly enhances preparedness.

Debriefing is essential to strengthen an organization’s response to subsequent incidents. It allows the organization to study the actual response versus the planned response and, where necessary, revise emergency plans. Thus, an effective debriefing process would be one that is supported by recordings of the incident that provide reliable information.

Learning from real-time incidents can dramatically enhance the organization’s potential for improved response. Recording actual incidents while they are unfolding makes it possible to improve security and safety management by retrospectively creating a timeline of events. The response could then be analyzed from a multilevel perspective, from management to security staff and external forces.

Naturally, using data already generated by the system as part of an incident response is more affordable than traditional methods for evaluating such plans. Digital event logs can be used to detect patterns and similarities in security breaches, such as thefts occurring in the same area. Debriefing also provides an ideal opportunity to evaluate and demonstrate continuous enhancement methodology at the corporate level.

The debriefing mode of Rontal’s SimGuard incident management system, for example, allows safety and security management personnel to learn from real time incidents and other events by providing digital feedback and analysis of the reactions by security teams.

If you like what you see, get more delivered to your inbox weekly.
Click here to subscribe to our free premium content.

comments powered by Disqus

Digital Edition

  • Environmental Protection
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Infrastructure Solutions Group
  • School Planning & Managmenet
  • College Planning & Management
  • Campus Security & Life Safety