From the available data, civil unrest is on the rise. Key assets are increasingly becoming popular targets. Often for logistical, legal, or even symbolic reasons, the assets themselves can’t be closed to the public entirely. What, then, are planners to do, to ensure emergency lifecycle preparedness throughout a civil unrest incident?
Emergency lifecycle preparedness starts well before the incident
For starters, it might be true that incidents of civil unrest tend to begin organically. It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that they leave no trackable trace before they erupt.
Indeed, by now, social media planning is a staple of most protest movements that generate incidents of civil unrest. Planners, in turn, must go where the information and intelligence is. Which means social media tracking should be a key activity during the mitigation and preparedness phases of the emergency lifecycle.
While valuable, social media tracking alone won’t guarantee emergency lifecycle preparedness. Emergency plans should be built off of information gathered in sophisticated vulnerability assessments.
Subsequent trainings of that plan will then identify the need to bolster procedures, so as to ensure emergency lifecycle preparedness. Activities those exercises are likely to cover include:
- Solidify relationships with law enforcement (often via mutual aid agreements). Advanced planning should include discussion of traffic considerations to keep routes open and safe.
- Ensure appropriate signage is visible and legible, to prevent confusion and provide clarity to protestors and law enforcement alike.
- Invest in high visibility security.
- Establish shared processes to receive, distribute, and share intelligence between emergency managers and relay intelligence to incident command.
- Develop pre-scripted messages to inform the public of the status and/or potential negative impacts of the incident.
- If relevant, include and test employee communication provisions.
- Prepare facilities maintenance to address property damage resulting from the incident.
Response and mitigation activities to ensure emergency lifecycle preparedness
Of course, mitigation activities are meant to prepare you to execute on planned procedures during the response to the civil unrest incident. Response activities run the gamut; incidents of this type are highly fluid events.
However, you are likely to see enhanced crowd monitoring and traffic control measures figure prominently during the response phase, with a focus on limiting routes of entrance and exit to areas with sufficient security presence.
In addition, establishing thresholds for activating third-party security services will be necessary, as well as training all relevant personnel when to transition to the recovery phase, i.e., when emotions calm from the incident in question.
In contrast, the recovery phase is all about getting things back to normal, assessing and repairing damage, as well as moving towards an improved emergency lifecycle preparedness posture going forward.
What that might entail: interviewing key personnel to collect first-hand evidence of what happened, the details of which will then be collated together into an after-action report.
What’s more, in civil unrest incidents where vandalism and property damage occur, provisions must be made for timely and safe waste removal, with the requisite security resources provided if the risk of violence remains high. A thorough assessment of damage to the asset should also be completed expeditiously to determine financial and operational impact.
Finally, incidents of civil unrest often start suddenly and organically. But it’s incumbent on planners to anticipate the eruptions by investing in key asset protecting resources that ensure emergency lifecycle preparedness. Keen to learn more?
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