The IRA warned us that we had to be lucky every day, but they had to be lucky on only one day to achieve their objectives. Accepting that truism as correct, the security services do all that they can to disrupt, frustrate, arrest, track and trace, monitor, control and penetrate the organisations that wish us harm in our daily lives. They are as prepared as they can be.
Similarly, both the private and public sector should be taking steps to minimise the impact of disruptive events on their staff, organisations and businesses. Business continuity plans, resilience preparedness, succession planning, together with a communications strategy are all parts of their individual armoury. As long as they are tested regularly and are fully maintained at all times.
It’s all very well writing a plan but it must be relevant and up-to-date with the correct contacts details for the different response teams – and individuals. The object of all of us should be to be ready for the unexpected event, which well may be catastrophic.
I was in Italy recently, in Lazio and Manche, and there was no hint, no clue of the impending disaster. No indication at all. August is holiday time in Italy, we take to the beach, they take to the foothills of the mountains.
Can you prepare for an earthquake? Can you prepare for a natural disaster?
Given the threat to life and limb that an earthquake, or, indeed, a flood or a fire or hurricane represents, then there should be no reason as to why authorities should not have in place all the plans and mechanisms to meet the challenge.
All power, water, communications routes were lost when the earthquake struck Italy and the subsequent 1,000 aftershocks have kept everyone, rescued and rescuers alike, on the edge of their nerves. They should be congratulated on what they have achieved and the miracles they continue to perform.
In all major, catastrophic events communications are the key. The ability for the emergency services to talk to each other, to convey requests for help and equipment, to broadcast situation reports, to warn and inform and to keep the rescue teams safe and secure. Good clear communications can be easily established and networks created long before the event occurs, be they man made or natural events.
What, perhaps, cannot be written into the disaster recovery plan is the criminals that take advantage of the situation. In Italy, within the impact zone, criminals posed as firemen, police, Red Cross and asked for access to properties to check for earthquake damage – cracked walls etc. Once inside they burgled the property. Hard to believe? But I have friends where the attempts have been made and I know of others that have fallen victim to such criminal activity.
Part of our own business continuity plans must be eternal vigilance for ourselves and also for vulnerable neighbours. Eternal vigilance must also be the watchword for those who have the responsibility for our wider security, and we must ensure that they have the budgets to fulfil their obligations and the imagination to rise to the challenge.