The FBI designated 50 shootings in 2016 and 2017 as active shooter incidents (with 20 incidents occurring in 2016 and 30 incidents in 2017). Clearly an active shooter is a critical incident you worry about. But what else do you define as an “incident”? Maybe other frightening events such as a bomb threat, medical emergency or severe weather. Or, business-impacting occurrences such as a data breach. Or potentially an event that might just be classified as an annoyance like an elevator failure. No matter your definition, what are your priorities, goals and gaps when it comes to your organization’s critical incident response strategy?
Preparedness is the first step of incident response management. “Plan the work and work the plan.” While you cannot prepare for every conceivable event, your plan can incorporate policies and best practices for a prescribed list of incidents with the flexibility to adapt and morph to fit the unexpected. The following should be considered:
- Emergency Communication Plan
- Training & Awareness
- Exercise Programs
- Command Center & Staff
- Multi-Agency Sharing
- Evacuation Plans
- Security Controls
Your team cannot respond to a problem or situation that you are not aware of, so think outside the box to provide multiple mechanisms for reporting an incident. Again, depending on your definition of an “incident,” options abound.
- Start with leveraging phone devices of all types throughout your enterprise, including PBX stations, cell phones, attendant consoles and emergency ringdown phones. Hotlines and speed dial keys to alert or even conference in security personnel are available.
- Extend reporting beyond traditional phone devices – to the desktop, dispatch consoles, land mobile radio and even email. Your employees can initiate an alarm by clicking a desktop alarm icon, pressing a hotkey or by sending an email. For some system failures, an automated email can be generated.
- And don’t forget the variety of your deployed third-party systems that can report a problem, requiring no human intervention. Via a wide range of interfaces and protocols, emergency doors, building access control systems, refrigeration and temperature monitors, fire panels, security systems, elevators and more can raise alarms.
A situation has been reported. Now what? Communication and mobilization are paramount. Whether you need to notify thousands with emergency instructions or dispatch a single engineer to a system failure, accuracy and automation saves time and could save lives. For your response strategy, think about aspects such as:
- Replacing manual phone trees with automated dial-out to office, home and mobile phones with alert announcements and instructions. Track the success or failure of each call out for real-time and downstream reporting and auditing.
- Mobilize your response team via automated call-outs including option of positive or negative reply to the mobilization request. If the positive response count does not meet the required quota, automatically escalate to a supervisor or another team.
- Extend notifications, communications and conferencing among disparate two-way, land mobile radio systems and your telephone network. Since many of your key response personnel carry radios, assuring LMR system integration with your traditional telephone network is important.
- Text messaging to cell phones is a valuable tool but don’t forget other multi-platform messaging options to propagate alerts and instructions. Complement text messaging with alerts to computer desktops or messaging to PBX phones, WiFi devices or team collaboration solutions like Unify’s Circuit.
- As noted above, extend your response capabilities beyond typical communication devices. Via integration technologies, lock or unlock secured doors, monitor emergency exits, activate alert beacons, broadcast announcements via overhead speaker or outdoor PA systems.
- Finally, a dial-in announcement service that provides up-to-date status or information messages without burdening support staff is the perfect complement to your outbound communications. Quickly switch from preconfigured announcements that are played when someone dials in during standard operation to announcements that are played at the start of an incident, or to announcements that are recorded on the fly in order to provide the latest information and instructions during an incident.
Incident Close Out
Whether the crisis event is minutes, hours or days, continue to leverage your response technologies and processes for notification, collaboration and mobilization. As the crisis is concluded, the “all clear” or final instructions can be distributed via your selected communication paths, third-party systems set back to normal and reports and audit trails reviewed to discern potential future improvements.
At Impact, we are excited to partner with you to deliver communication solutions that are easy to use, and more importantly, highly adaptive to support your business rules and incident response. Click here to learn how DAKS can be a vital component in your response strategy and then contact us today to talk more about your security priorities and how Impact can assist you.