The importance of emergency or crisis management team preparedness
An incident is often a situation beyond the scope of everyday business that threatens the operation, safety, and reputation of an organisation. Incidents can be divided into minor, serious, or major, depending on the cause, severity and impact on e.g. human welfare, organisational assets or the environment.
Incidents, emergencies, or a crisis can take many different forms and it is sometimes difficult for a security manager or senior decision-makers to structure and prepare various initiatives to avoid or manage an incident, emergency, or crisis. Some examples of mistakes that organisations have made in the past include:
No crisis management function or emergency response plans in place.
No monitoring of media signals over time.
Not knowing who the key stakeholders and decisions makers are.
No succession planning or back-up of local IT-systems and key documents.
“Anyone that has been involved in an incident or emergency is well-aware of the value of an emergency response plan and well-prepared measures, instead of ad hoc decisions and panic. To effectively manage an incident or emergency, it is recommended to establish and regularly exercise a crisis management team (CMT). Specific considerations based on type of organisation, size, locations and risk exposure should be considered when setting up CMT structure, roles and responsibilities.” says Henrik Reuterdahl, Head of Intelligence at SRS Security.
Suzana Avramović, Head of Office Management and CMT member at East Capital, an asset manager specialising in emerging and frontier markets highlights that “to successfully manage an incident or emergency, individual responsibilities and lines of authority should be clearly defined and adjusted to the local context. Our crisis management team consists of individuals who have complementary areas of knowledge, but more importantly, are willing to work in a team environment under stressful conditions, act under pressure and make fast decisions”.
Organisations with staff and offices in locations with increased political risks should pro-actively prepare and document risk assessments, potential scenarios and emergency response plans including relevant alert and readiness levels (see example below).
If the current geopolitical and security situation continues to deteriorate in key regions such as Asia Pacific, Middle East and Eastern Europe, it is important to continuously monitor alert and readiness levels, update plans, documents and instructions and communicate these to staff. Emergency plans should always be simple and straightforward, covering a range of risks such as military action, restricted movement, or state interventions. To ensure that those involved understand their roles and responsibilities during an incident or emergency it is important to rehearse and practice.
In addition to have procedures and instructions in place for local offices, it is also beneficial to have agreements with security partners and medical assistance providers for evacuation support as well as insurance companies to recover some of the cost relating to an emergency or evacuation. If third parties are to be a part of your emergency response plans, there is a huge benefit to include and engage them in scenario-based exercises.