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Advice to employees caught up in a terrorist attack

Following the latest Paris attacks, the need to plan for the possibility of a marauding firearms attack by terrorists has been rammed home to those responsible for public safety.

The police and the CT authorities bear a significant responsibility in such a scenario and they are already actively planning and rehearsing for such attacks. But those responsible for employee safety, especially in big buildings or campuses in large cities, also need to consider what they should do to ensure the safety of those within their care.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has just taken the unusual step of releasing a video advising citizens what to do in the event of an armed terrorist attack in a public place. The four minute video called ‘Run, Hide, Tell’, advises what to do in the event that you are caught up in a firearms and weapons attack, and advises that you should first of all run if you can; if not, then hide and tell someone what is happening to you.

Specifically they advise:

• RUN to a place of safety. This is a far better option than to surrender or negotiate. If there’s nowhere to go, then…. • HIDE. It’s better to hide than to confront. Remember to turn your phone to silent and turn off vibrate. Barricade yourself in if you can. Then finally and only when it is safe to do so…. • TELL the police by calling 999.

I want to consider what steps employers can take in advance to improve the safety of their team during an attack on a crowded or public place. Since the Paris attacks, almost every client that I talk to mentions the issue and they have one concern above all else. That is to be able to know where their employees are in the field at all times and to be able to contact them to check if they are safe and need help.

I have talked to a global media organization, a City-based financial intelligence agency and a US investment fund in recent weeks. All three had staff in Paris at the time of the attacks and were thrown into a panic by not being able to contact them with the mobile phone networks under severe strain.

Of course, social media can come into its own in such situations. Moments after the news broke about the attacks, Facebook activated its Safety Check feature for Parisians to reassure friends and family that they were safe. The system, first used earlier this year during the Nepal earthquake, targets users it knowns to be in or around the affected area and asks them to check in and confirm that they are safe.

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