If you are facing lions in the Coliseum, you need an exit strategy

If you are facing lions in the Coliseum, you need an exit strategy

The Romans could evacuate 50,000 people from the Coliseum within fifteen minutes. A remarkable feat of architectural planning, business continuity and resilience understanding. All of it done without modern day techniques and computer programmes and Health and Safety statutes.

The current equivalent of the Coliseum is the football stadium, the major centres of entertainment – including Hyde Park and out-door arenas – and the shopping mall. Events at Manchester United have brought home to us that a critical event can occur at any time and under any circumstance. This time it was benign, a simple mistake, you count them out and you count them in and reconcile the two numbers. The stadium was quickly evacuated but at some considerable cost.

I am sure that all teams in the foremost football leagues in the world have carefully prepared evacuation plans, and that they are now testing and retesting them. There will be a swirl of activity driven by a fear of corporate liability.

But what of our shopping malls? Have they conducted similar reviews? Have they truly examined all of the possibilities and scenarios? Previous attacks in Kenya and elsewhere have demonstrated that such places are not immune. They may well have plans in place but how do they communicate alerts and instructions to the thousands of visitors that may well be within their perimeters?

Run, Hide, Tell are the instructions from the British Authorities. But who tells, and how do they tell? Should individual stores to bring down their shutters and lock customers in for their own protection. Should they evacuate to a designated assembly point? Instructions to go and form a crowd may well be taking customers and staff into danger, not away from it. A crowd of people is an easy target!

The pressure is on in such situations to literally make life and death decisions and they disseminate those decisions and the instructions that accompany them with speed and certainty. Even the right decisions can fall apart if they are not communicated properly.

This is where a robust and multi-channel emergency communications platform like Crises Control can really prove its worth. Don’t leave yourself facing the lions in the arena without a proper exit strategy.

Richard Barnes