Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Fires, Floods, Going Green, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Hurricanes, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The Second Line of Response

Cartoon Oil Dripping
Second Responders do a lot of the dirty work following disasters.

 

Throughout our disaster planning and prevention blog posts, we often focus on the safety and actions of first responders. For example, we suggest proactively working with the fire department when the schematics of your building change or to get their advice about the best way to implement cutting-edge safety measures. Understandably, first responders also get lots of press due to the inherent danger of their jobs. I’ve been on some four-alarm fire calls with these braves gals and guys. And it’s some serious work! Firefighters and EMS personnel rush directly into dire circumstances just as everyone else is racing out.

 

For large scale disasters, after the first responders do their high-profile jobs, significant hazards remain which must be dealt with, properly cleaned or contained, or even rebuilt. This is where second responders come in. From cleaning oil spills and radioactive waste to assessing the safety of bridges, second responders serve a vital role by bringing communities back from disasters.

Second responders face multiple challenges:

  • In many instances, the job of the second responder is considerably less glamorous than that of the first people to arrive on scene who are seen battling blazes and pulling people from piles of debris. It’s important to publicly recognize the work of second responders to be sure they feel appreciated. And just a pat on the head won’t cut it! These industrious folks aren’t pooches, you know!
  • Second responders who participated in Hurricane Katrina cleanup efforts were met by the health hazards from standing water, including mold and bacteria exposure and hordes of insects. That doesn’t sound fun. My water bowl gets bugs in it sometimes; I just consider them a high-protein, low-carb snack.
  • After earthquakes, trained engineers need to enter precarious buildings to test structures to determine if they can be repaired or need to be demolished. For example, buildings in New Zealand are being used as test specimens to give an up-close view on earthquake damage.
  • Air quality issues are a considerable issue which harmed second responders following the 9/11 attacks, to Katrina, and the California wildfires. Second responders need proper filtration and breathing equipment in order to be safe.
  • Proper hygiene and disease prevention following emergencies are priorities for second responders who work to prevent outbreaks that are especially common when survivors are grouped together in cramped temporary quarters. Speaking of cramped, the guys went to Vegas for a week, and left me at a kennel. I had a terrible case of kennel cough when they returned because we had been packed in there like sardines!

Keep in mind that there are multiple types of people and jobs which fall into the “second responders” category. After some disasters, social workers and counselors are part of very important response units that can help mend broken families and allow people an outlet for expressing frustration or anguish. There are also categories of second responders who serve over a longer period of time. For instance, there is a group called the Lambi Fund of Haiti Earthquake Recovery which is a planning on civic rebuilding and growth of the nation after the major relief organizations have moved onto the next disaster.

A focus on second responders can be an eye-opening experience into the long-term effects of major disasters. It builds an understanding that there is more to emergency management than literally saving lives in the moment, but also a need to rebuild so those who are saved have a place to call home. On a side note, everyone deserves a good home, so donate to your local pet rescue facility today!

Proper planning and learning the “Do’s” are the keys to managing the situation when disasters strike.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Disaster Preparedness

Avoid Fertilizer-based bombs. Yuck.

Bombs are bad.

This is our final blog in a series about terrorism-related issues.

Our first post provided an overview of the threats of terrorism, including suggestions for to work with law enforcement to stop terrorist plots. Our second post explored the basics of counter-terrorism surveillance including CCTV systems and tips for spotting suspicious behavior.

Today’s post wraps up our series with thoughts about avoiding terrorist attacks by paying attention to the threat level for current terrorism risks, making your building a difficult target for attack, and suggestions for properly reporting suspicious activities. Perhaps our next blog series will focus on “canine satisfaction,” with topics such as “proper tummy rubbing,” or “optimal pig-ear chewing times.” A Dalmatian can hope…

Pay attention to the current “threat level

  • The Homeland Security Advisory System was established in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks. The threats range from “Low” to “Severe” and are intended to alert the public about the current estimated terrorist risks. Specific government actions are required for any given threat level to go into effect. I consider a “severe” threat to be when Whiskers decides to walk across my front lawn. When he does…the chase is on!
  • When the threat level is raised to the orange/high or red/severe levels, you should expand your surveillance efforts and take other security precautions. Threats might pertain to your particular building or one of your specific tenant’s business operations.

Make your building a less attractive target for terrorism

  • In July 2006, a plot by suicide bombers in the NYC commuter rail was revealed by law enforcement personnel, who stated that the perpetrators had already obtained detailed blueprints of the rail tunnels prior to the attack. Secure building blueprints which can be used to establish weak points for entering and destroying the structure. Limit blueprint availability online and train your property managers to follow proper procedures for releasing building information. Now if I can just find my schematics for the 2,000 sq. foot doghouse…
  • Pay special attention to tenants who work with or produce materials that could be used to make explosive devices and those that work in aviation-related fields or construction-related companies. For example, Canadian officials recently investigated an individual who purchased a large quantity of manure that is sometimes used to make fertilizer-based bombs. Work with tenants to ensure they follow safety and securing procedures, for both their intellectual and physical properties.

A fundamental way to prevent terrorist attacks is to properly report suspicious activity to stop attacks in the planning stages. In the RJ Westmore, Inc. surveillance blog, we talked about identifying suspicious activities but did not explore how to gather and report that activity to law enforcement:

  • Note the familiar “who, what, where, when and why,” which are vitally important to establish timelines for law enforcement so attacks can be thwarted.
  • Train your surveillance team to pay attention to details such as license plate information, nationality and physical-build characteristics, and clothing. I would say to include “species,” but dogs aren’t well known for acts of terrorism. We’re more about displaying acts of heroism.
  • Additional information can be found in our training program, where we provide RJ Westmore Training System clients with a “Terrorism Awareness Checklist.”

Thanks for reading our series about terrorism-related issues and what you can do as building owners and property managers to mitigate risks and work with authorities to prevent attacks. Remember that safety should always be a top priority!

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. RJ Westmore, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.