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Preparing for Terrorist Attacks: In Light of the Paris Attacks

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Jihadist shows bomb with world mapThis week’s blog topic is a somber one, because it refers to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France. The horrifying and cowardly incident included mass shootings at the Bataclan Theatre, suicide bombings, and the taking of hostages. A total of 130 victims died in the attacks, representing 20 different countries. The terrorist group ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks, and promises to target more Western countries in the coming months and years. Following the incidents, France was thrust into a state of emergency, and actions were taken throughout Europe and the Middle East to find and eliminate those responsible for the atrocities.

Here in the U.S., terrorism remains a persistent (and now heightened) concern for public agencies as well as the private sector. Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assures us that there are currently no credible attacks planned for the U.S. or Canadian soil. In fact, the risk of incidents to North America is at an all-time low, due to increased awareness and tight safety precautions. Unfortunately, however, as the Paris attacks demonstrated, the need for worldwide disaster prevention and mitigation relative to terrorism will likely remain mission critical in perpetuity.

Prevention Tactics

War in Paris / 3dFortunately, North America is free, allowing citizens and visitors to move about as they wish. This is an important part of life in the United States and Canada, but one that also means that potential terrorists also have freedom to move about. Here are some tactics to employ to keep your high-rise building safe from the threat of terrorism:

  • Establish security protocols for anyone who wants to enter the building. For example, require escorts and verification for all visitors. The lobby should be carefully protected, with limited access provided to more secure areas.
  • Require package deliveries to be left in the lobby with staff members who can screen mail and appropriately alert building occupants.
  • Install security barriers outside entrances to stop vehicles from ramming into the front of your building. Large companies have employed these tactics, to great effect.
  • Prevent access to the roof of your building, by carefully guarding access to internal stairwells, elevators and fire escapes.
  • Train staff members to properly check incoming mail and package deliveries. Make sure they know how to spot suspicious materials.
  • Learn about building-specific upgrades such as hardening outer walls and installing security glass. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers a detailed guide about several types of improvements. Our subscribers also enjoy access to lots of safety training materials relative to high-rise preparedness.

Reducing the Risk of Airborne Attacks

Military guarding eiffel tower after terrorist attackTerror organizations may utilize chemical and airborne agents to attack a building. What should building owners and managers do to reduce this threat?

  1. Conduct a review of the building’s HVAC system, including how to quickly shutoff the system in the event of an airborne or chemical attack.
  2. Restrict access to air intake vents on the outside of buildings.
  3. Consider moving vents to inaccessible locations — the higher, the better. If this is impossible, use strong fencing or grating to secure intake areas.

Preparedness Tips for Handling Terrorist Attacks

Managing the lives of building occupants during a terrorist attack requires the same calm and well-planned actions that are needed during other emergencies. Here are some tips to help you prepare to handle emergencies before, during and after an attack:

  • Identify any critical infrastructures and ensure those areas and systems are locked down and closely monitored at all times.
  • Review your terrorism and emergency response plans. Create a plan to tighten security protocols at a moment’s notice.
  • Instruct and train your staff to be extra vigilant and report anything that seems suspicious or out of the ordinary.
  • Use the DHS “If You See Something, Say Something” approach to prepare yourself and your staff.
  • Keep first aid kits at the ready.
  • Establish evacuation routes for everyone in the building, including alternate routes that could circumvent an ongoing attack.
  • Utilize a hand-crank radio and cell phone for alerts about the situation, and be prepared to accordingly adjust actions.
  • Follow the instructions of emergency first-responders.
  • Don’t leave the safety of a building until emergency responders tell you to exit the building.
  • Make sure your emergency supply kit includes flashlights and bottled water.
  • Once you are outside the affected building, wait for instructions from emergency personnel.

The Importance of Security Procedures

A suicide bomber involved in the Paris attacks was discovered trying to enter a France vs. Germany soccer game, when a security officer patted him down and discovered his explosive vest. Building owners and managers who employ security personnel should teach them to spot and deter suspicious behavior so they can stop an attack.

While vigilance and planning for terrorist attacks are warranted, it should also be noted that the risks of terrorism are still incredibly low in our post-9/11 nation. Nevertheless, implementing security measures is recommended, and building managers and owners should take steps to prepare occupants for the possibility of an attack.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Disaster Preparation Lessons from the Olympics

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

As we look forward to the 2012 Olympic Games to be held this summer in London, officials are doing their due diligence to prepare for potential natural and man-made disasters. After all, planning and preparation is critical for an event that brings together millions of people from all over the world. For security reasons, the International Olympic Committee will not disclose specific steps they are taking to ensure safety for the games. Nevertheless, some disaster management experts agree about the type of disasters that are most likely to strike after the torch is lit during the opening ceremonies in Olympic Stadium in Stratford on July 27.

Disaster preparation has played a crucial role in every game since the so-called Munich Massacre of 1972 when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by Palestinian terrorists. What’s more, the events of 9/11 made preparation all the more critical, tipping the scales in focused planning from natural to man-made disasters.

Two disaster planning and preparedness recently released a novel which explores a likely threat to the 2012 games. Entitled Prion, the work explores the potential of an attack on the London 2012 Olympics using biological agents. Although the thriller is fiction, it sheds light on one of the most likely types of threats to the 2012 games…bioterrorism. Authors, Dr. Italo Subbarao and Dr. Ed Hsu, U.S.-based experts in disaster planning preparedness and emergency medicine, point out the potential dangers of man-made biological agents slipping into the wrong hands.

The authors say their work was inspired, in part, by a 2011 report by the Bipartisan WMD Terrorism Research Center in the United States, which highlighted numerous areas for improvement and concluded that: “The nation does not yet have adequate bio-response capability to meet fundamental expectations during a large-scale biological event.”

“If the U.S. is so unprepared, can the UK—or any other country—honestly claim to be in any better position?” asks Dr. Subbarao.

Rest assured the WMD Report Card was written in 2011. Since that time, extensive time and attention has been devoted to beefing up security protocols in both the U.S. and the U.K. So, even as officials ready the nations, how should average United States’ citizens prepare for a bioterrorist attack? We say this often at Allied Universal Inc, where our goal is to SAVE LIVES THROUGH TRAINING: With bioterrorism as well as any other disaster, to BE SAFE, your best bet is to prepare:

  1. Assemble a kit. Your standard Emergency Supply Kit should include items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries.
  2. Stay informed. The first evidence of an attack may be when you notice symptoms of the disease caused by exposure to an agent. Follow these guidelines during a biological threat:
  1. Make a plan.
    • Check with your doctor to ensure all required or suggested immunizations are up to date. (Children and older adults are particularly vulnerable to biological agents.)
    • Consider installing a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in your furnace-return ducts. These filters remove particles in the 0.3 to 10 micron range and will filter out most of the biological agents that might enter your home or office building. If you do not have a central heating or cooling system, a stand-alone portable HEPA filter can be used.
    • Although you might consider investing in gas or surgical face masks, be aware that masks are only effective when worn at the exact time that the agent is released.
    • Familiarize yourself with your community’s warning systems and disaster plans.
    • Public health officials may not immediately be able to provide information on what you should do. Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet for official news and information including signs and symptoms of the disease, areas in danger, if medications or vaccinations are being distributed and where to seek medical attention if you become ill.
  1. BE SAFE. If you become aware of an unusual and suspicious substance:
    • Quickly get away.
    • Protect yourself. Cover your mouth and nose with layers of fabric that can filter the air but still allow breathing.
    • If you have been exposed to a biological agent, remove and bag your clothes and personal items. Follow official instructions for disposal of contaminated items.
    • Wash yourself with soap and water and put on clean clothes.
    • Use common sense, practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs.
    • If you believe you have been exposed to a toxic agent, contact authorities and seek medical assistance. You may be advised to stay away from others or even quarantined.
    • In a declared biological emergency or developing epidemic, there may be reason to stay away from crowds where others may be infected.
    • Wait for instructions from doctors and other public health officials.
    • For more information about bioterrism, refer to cdc.gov.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW Allied Universal Property Messaging System is included FREE for all Allied Universal Online Training System users. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information.

Final Thoughts about 9/11–Lessons we’ve learned

Sunday, September 11th, 2011
Twin Towers Memorial

Allied Universal, Inc will never forget the events of 9/11.

Part 4 of a 4-part series

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, we have devoted three of our past four blog posts to discuss the 10 lessons the world has learned from that fateful day. We have tried to use our voice as experts in safety and disaster training to recommend emergency precautions that you should take now to give you and your family, friends, employees and colleagues the best chance of surviving another terrorist attack. In this, our fourth and final installment, we’ll cover the final lessons we’ve learned since that fateful day.

Remembering 9/11:

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger planes. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and thousands of people working in the buildings.

Both towers collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. A third airliner was crashed into the Pentagon. Hijackers redirected the fourth plane toward Washington, D.C., targeting either the Capitol Building or the White House, but were diverted when passengers tried to retake control. The airliner crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania, leaving no survivors.

Nearly 3,000 victims and 19 hijackers died in the attacks. Among the 2,753 victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, there were 343 firefighters, 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority, and 8 private EMTs and paramedics. Another 184 people were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of more than 70 countries.

Lessons about terrorism we’ve learned from 9/11:

  1. Clean-up could take many months and cost millions. Counting the value of lives lost as well as property damage and lost production of goods and services, losses associated with the events of September 11, 2001 exceed $100 billion. According to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, “The loss in stock market wealth—the market’s own estimate arising from expectations of lower corporate profits and higher discount rates for economic volatility—the price tag approaches $2 trillion.” The best way to prepare for this type of hit is to try to prevent attacks. As a nation, over the past 10 years, we have improved security on many levels. As a building owner or property manager, make sure you take precautions to beef up security.
  2. Public fear, fed by extensive media coverage, may continue for a prolonged period of time. As a result, workplaces, government offices and schools might be closed. According to the Huffington Post, television stations broadcasted more than 3,000 hours of 9/11 coverage. And while much of that coverage was desirable and understandable, portions might have been unnecessary and contributed to anxiety…especially among children. If another large-scale terrorist attack occurs, monitor the amount of associated television programming you allow your children to view. Likewise, try not to watch every televised minute of disaster coverage, yourself. While you will benefit from information about things like restrictions on transportation, make sure you take breaks from the madness to eat and rest and talk to people in the real world.
  3. Terrorism has many faces. Racial profiling is not only unfair but insufficient because terrorists come in all shapes and sizes. Consider terrorists like the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh, Clayton Lee Waagner, Irv Rubin or the two females who have been blamed for the Twin Metro Blasts in Moscow. Terrorists don’t always wear turbans and speak Arabic. So pay attention to anything out of the ordinary and report it to local authorities.
  4. The world was forever changed by the events of 9/11. Time Magazine writer Nancy Gibbs wrote that we, as Americans, now share: “a sharp resolve to just be better, bigger, to shed the nonsense, rise to the occasion.”

As you honor the innocent and brave folks who died on that fateful day in September 10 years ago, give note to portraits of courage, self-sacrifice and hope instead of focusing on images of the jets and the flames. Paying homage to the brave will encourage us all.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, 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.

How to Help Children Cope Following a Disaster

Monday, April 11th, 2011
Child holding toy NYPD car

Take steps to help children cope following disasters.

Whether children personally experience trauma, watch events unfold on television or overhear adult discussions, natural and manmade disasters can leave them feeling frightened, confused and insecure. To help kids cope, parents, teachers and friends should take steps so they understand how to easily identify and reduce disaster-related stress.

Identifying Risk Factors

While individual reactions to natural and manmade disasters vary, there are some common denominators in young folks who experience stress brought on by emergency situations such as fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, terrorism and the like. To help you identify risk factors, consider these common childhood reactions to disaster:

  • Fear, especially at night
  • Sadness
  • Bedwetting
  • Sleep disturbances and nightmares
  • Separation anxiety, clinging, dependant behavior
  • Anger
  • Acting out with whining or tantrums
  • Physical aggression
  • Problems in school
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Although it is normal for both children and adults to react for a time to disasters near and far, for some, response to abnormal events can lead to more substantial, enduring psychological distress. Particularly at risk for this more serious, sustained negative behavior are children who have been directly exposed to physical disasters—such as those who were evacuated from their homes, have come in close contact with accident victims, witnessed deaths, suffered personal injuries or feared for their life and safety.

Also significant are secondary effects of disasters such as temporary changes in living arrangements, interruption in communication with friends and social networks, loss of personal property, parental unemployment and costs incurred during recovery to return the family to pre-disaster life and living conditions.

In most cases, primary and secondary symptoms will diminish over time. But for those who were directly exposed to disasters, reminders may occasionally pop up such as high winds, smoke, cloudy skies, sirens, or aftershocks.

No matter the emergency, the ability of children to cope with disasters or emergencies is often tied to the way their parents cope. Kids are bright; so they can detect adult fears and sadness. So the best way to reduce trauma for kids is to take steps to effectively manage your own feelings as parents are almost always the best source of support for children in disasters.

Prior to disasters, FEMA advises the best way to establish a sense of control and to build confidence in children is to engage and involve them in preparing a family disaster plan. After a disaster, children can contribute to a family recovery plan.

After the Disaster/How to Help

  • Encourage children and adolescents to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Clarify misunderstandings about risk and danger by listening to children’s concerns.
  • Maintain a sense of calm by validating children’s concerns and perceptions.
  • Listen to what the child is saying.
  • If a young child asks questions about the event, answer them.
  • If a child has difficulty expressing feelings, allow the child to draw a picture or tell a story of what happened.

Suggestions to Help Reassure Children

  • Hug your kids. Physical affection can restore feelings of security.
  • Share just enough details about the event to assuage fears without contributing to insecurity.
  • Quickly reestablish a daily routine.
  • Involve kids in your efforts to return to normal.
  • Praise responsible behavior.
  • Monitor media exposure.
  • Take advantage of available support networks.

If, despite your efforts, your child continues to exhibit stress, and particularly if the reactions worsen over time or interfere with daily behavior at school, home, or with other relationships, it might be time to call in a professional. Seek assistance from a primary care physician, mental health professional or a member of the clergy.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, 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.

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How to Prepare for a Nuclear Disaster

Monday, March 14th, 2011
Radioactive Warning Sign

There are lots of resources for nuclear preparation.

All of us at Allied Universal, Inc. want to extend our sympathies to those who were affected by the 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunamis that ravaged Japan last Friday. Sources report the death toll at a staggering 2,800. With thousands of people remaining missing, the total number of casualties is expected to exceed 10,000.

As if the earthquake and tsunami disaster were not enough, Japanese nuclear scientists are warning of a possible related reactor-explosion. Shortly after the earthquakes and tsunami, explosions are said to have occurred when zirconium alloy casings of reactor fuel rods were exposed to air, causing the rods to overheat and release hydrogen gas.

With a second hydrogen blast on Monday morning destroying the outer walls of one of the reactor units, Japanese nuclear specialists are struggling to cool three affected units at the Fukushima-1 Nuclear Power Plant. The events have the Far East bracing for a potential large-scale disaster.

Cooling systems are said to be malfunctioning, and, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), the plant is in danger of a meltdown, though they guarantee that, “There is no possibility of a Chernobyl-style accident at the site.” The events have led Japan to appeal to the United States for help.

In the midst of this news, it is timely that we take the opportunity to advise our clients and friends about steps to take in order to prepare for and react to potential disasters of this magnitude.

All Allied Universal Training System subscribers have proprietary access to life-saving information about effectively dealing with, among other things, both tsunami and radiation-related incidents.

Allied Universal Training System Charts for Emergency Preparedness

Allied Universal Training System subscribers have access to lots of great resources.

Another valuable resource is offered by FEMA—An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (IS-22), called: Are You Ready? FEMA’s most comprehensive source on individual, family, and community preparedness, the PDF provides current and up-to-date disaster preparedness information to reference if there is, among other things, an imminent terrorist or strategic nuclear attack threat. The downloadable booklet includes the following sections relative to earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear accidents:

Why Prepare

Basic Preparedness

Getting Informed

Emergency Planning and Checklists

Assemble Disaster Supplies Kit

Shelter

Hazard Specific Preparedness

Practicing and Maintaining Your Plan

Natural Hazards

Earthquakes

Landslide and Debris Flow (Mudslide)

Tsunamis

Technological Hazards

Hazardous Materials Incidents

Nuclear Power Plants

Terrorism

General Information about Terrorism

Explosions

Biological Threats

Chemical Threats

Nuclear Blast

Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD)

Recovering from Disaster

Another great resource is available from the CDC. So be sure to check it out.

Familiarize yourself with the FEMA and CDC information and, if you are a safety training subscriber, the Allied Universal materials. When faced by a potential nuclear incident, take these preliminary safety steps:

1.     Decide to Stay or Go.

First, you must decide first if you need to prepare where you are or attempt evacuation. The nature of the threat, your prior preparations, and your confidence in your sources of information should inform your decision. If you know that you do not plan to stay at your own home or place of business or in the general vicinity, see step #2:

2.     Evacuate?

If you are considering evacuation, make sure that leaving your current location is worth the associated risk. You won’t want to get stuck between your current location and destination, as returning will not be easy. If you fail reach your destination, you may be exposed to nuclear fallout without shelter.

3.     Delegate!

Because time is of the essence, quickly delegate and assign tasks to various adult family members and/or colleagues. Your first priorities should be handling any medical emergencies and arranging for food, shelter, water and emergency provisions.

When a disaster of any scale strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, 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.

Suspicious Packages – Protocols and Procedures

Monday, January 17th, 2011
cartoon truck with package inside

Be vigilant to screen packages.

For several companies and buildings, security procedures surrounding such packages are either lax or nonexistent. To reduce security risks, many owners and managers wisely route deliveries through a security or screening area before packages are delivered directly to tenants.

Unfortunately, this preventive measure is necessary since the potential threat from packages and letters being used to harm individuals is very real. Given the massive volume that flows through the U.S. Postal Service and companies such as UPS and FedEx, potential terrorists or other disgruntled individuals have considerable anonymity sending packages.

One of the most famous mail bombers is Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. A disgruntled former professor and ecological terrorist, Kaczynski mailed and delivered packages containing explosives for nearly 20 years. Using different tactics to hide the origination address of his various packages, he was able to avoid detection even given an enormous law enforcement manhunt.s

Building managers should institute procedures to help identify and stop potentially harmful packages.

Delivery procedures:

  • All packages should be received in a central location that is staffed by individuals trained in identifying suspicious packaging.
  • Hand delivered packages warrant extra scrutiny and should be properly examined before opening.
  • Front desk personnel and security should keep track of the typical schedules for postal and delivery staff, to help determine if something is out of place.

Train your mailroom or front desk staff on ways to spot an odd or suspicious package. Here are some red flags:

  • Inaccuracies including misspellings of someone’s name
  • Packages sent to an employee who has not been at the company for some time
  • Boxes which are not addressed to a specific person
  • Excessive markings such as “confidential,” “do not x-ray,” or other odd warnings
  • Any odor or stains. As the publicity around the “Anthrax Letters” grew in 2001, mailrooms around the country increased their vigilance to properly screen incoming mail.
  • Excessive weight, protruding wires, or any ticking or mechanical sounds are very clear warning signs to evacuate the building.

Mailroom and delivery receipt personnel should be properly trained to handle suspicious packages.

  • The first rule – don’t open it!
  • Handle the package with care. Avoid shaking or bumping the package.
  • Encourage employees to be critical.
  • Do not create an environment where workers are hesitant to raise suspicions.
  • For larger mailrooms, considering reserving an area for suspect packages, preferably a small room with a door.
  • Isolate the package from other workers.

Establishing clear protocols and a chain of command are critical for any potentially dangerous situation, where training and structure can save lives. Have a written plan in place so the mail clerk can notify a supervisor and building management.

Management should work with security to inform the local authorities. Set rules for when evacuating the building is warranted, and make sure the threat from suspicious packages is part of your comprehensive evacuation plan. An overabundance of caution is needed for optimal safety, so make sure your building management and tenants work together to properly screen and identify packages.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, 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.



Update on the Threat of Terrorist Attacks: How to Safeguard Your Residential or Commercial Property

Monday, January 10th, 2011
police line do not cross

Protect your property from terrorist attacks.

After the grand assault of 9/11, many security analysts worried terror cells were plotting similar or even larger scale attacks. Fortunately, however, due to law enforcement efforts and increased security, the likelihood of broad attacks involving multiple agents has actually decreased since 2001. This is due in part to decentralization of terrorist groups, which means more individuals might be operating without financial or operational backing. Unfortunately, it also means that the location of potential terror targets grows beyond high profile targets in major cities. City officials and police chiefs are responding by participating in terrorism-prevention training.

What should facility managers do in the face of the changing terrorism threat?

  • Installation of outside surveillance cameras can dissuade perpetrators from selecting your building for a “dry run” or actual attack.
  • Use Bollards to deter truck bombs. A Bollard is a large three to four foot post which can often be lowered and raised to allow or deny access into sensitive areas.
  • Ask city officials not to provide architectural plans of their facility to any outside person or organization.
  • Review procedures that allow non employees to enter the building. Set procedures to intercept packages and deliveries at a secure location. Require all visitors to be met and escorted by tenant personnel before being allowed into the building.
  • Go a block away from your building and then try to find a way back. Is the parking garage secure? Do side doors remain unlocked? If you do your homework, you will be able to uncover potential Security holes.

The importance of individual vigilance:

  • As potential terror perpetrators become less organized and individuals begin operating solo, law enforcement has less information to stop attacks.
  • Individual awareness of suspicious activities can thwart attacks in progress.
  • As with any goal, individual collaboration is the key to success. Encourage tenants to speak up if something seems out of place. Also, involvement of the custodial and parking staff can increase the potential for staff eyes and ears to spot potential issues.

In addition preventing potential attacks, facility managers should work with tenants to establish procedures in the event it becomes necessary to manage the aftermath of an attack:

  • Review and improve evacuation procedures for building occupants. Speedy and orderly exit during an emergency can save lives.
  • Establish protocols for reporting suspicious activity. Make sure there is a clear “chain of information,” with one facility point of contact for law enforcement.

In our free society, it is likely that terror threats will occur. However, individual attention combined with enhanced security measures can stop threats in action. With the recent Times Square bombing thwarted in part by a street vendor, ordinary citizens can make a real difference in terror prevention.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, 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.

Terrorism Avoidance

Monday, June 14th, 2010
Enterprising terrorists can make bombs out of fertilizer.

Enterprising terrorists can make bombs out of fertilizer.

This is our final blog in a series covering 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 blog explored the basics of counter-terrorism surveillance including CCTV systems and tips for spotting suspicious behavior. Today, we wrap 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 acts.

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 risk. Specific government actions are required for any given threat level to go into effect.
  • 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 terrorism target

  • In July 2006, a plot by suicide bombers in the NYC commuter rail was revealed by law enforcement personnel, who stated that the conspirator 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 or destroying the structure. Limit the blueprints availability online and train your property managers to follow proper procedures for releasing building information.
  • 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 Allied Universal, 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 time lines for law enforcement so attacks can be thwarted.
  • Train your surveillance team to pay attention to details such as license plate information, nationality, build and clothing.
  • 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 or property managers to mitigate risks and work with authorities to prevent attacks.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Allied Universal, 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.

Terrorism Surveillance: Keep Your Eyes Open

Monday, May 31st, 2010
Report suspicious activity

Report suspicious activity

Part 2 in a Series

A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security stated that attempted attacks on U.S. soil are at an all-time high. As a result, participation of private industry in surveillance has never been more important. The Obama Administration recently released its latest national security doctrine, which emphasizes the need for monitoring potential threats to United States-based targets.

The installation of CCTV Security Systems is becoming more widespread throughout urban and suburban areas, creating a “net” of coverage to aid in both terrorism prevention and speedy apprehension of suspects. As a property owner, you might consider installing a security system and establishing relationships with neighboring property managers as well as law enforcement.

Our post today explores best practices for terrorism surveillance, including how to scan for and identify suspicious activity and what to do with the information you gather.

Security System Installation

  • Select a professional CCTV installation company, which can advise you on the number and location of security cameras.
  • New camera systems offer DVR, which affords clients improved image storage and faster law enforcement review.

But the best camera system in the world is useless unless someone “knows what to look for.” Once your surveillance systems are in place, it’s important to educate your staff about how to identify potential threats.

Suspicious Activity could constitute “casing” of the building. Look for:

  • Individuals walking by the building repeatedly with no apparent purpose
  • Vehicles parked in unauthorized areas including loading zones or garage entrances
  • People trying to access restricted areas of the building

IT and information-related issues can be signs that your building is being targeted:

  • Terrorists who are scouting your location may do research. Be wary of:
    • Phone calls to your building asking for detailed tenant information or maps of the property
    • Website visitors from foreign internet connections repeatedly viewing your building’s website

Activities that could indicate an attack is imminent. Watch for:

  • Vehicles that come very close to the building past security barriers and then quickly depart
  • Individuals checking watches/cell phones frequently, and maintaining contact with other people who are located in various areas of the property

Cooperation with law enforcement and neighboring businesses:

  • Once security systems are in place, contact your local FBI office and police department to inform them of the system coverage and your willingness to help identify potential threats by reporting suspicious activity and sharing your surveillance footage.
  • Work with other business owners to discuss their surveillance tactics and share information about individuals or vehicles that have been behaving suspiciously.

With any complex problem designed to identify and prevent terrorism, cooperation is key. In the Times Square attempted bombing, a major lead about the bomber’s identity was obtained not from Times Square cameras but from shopping mall surveillance video that showed someone test-driving a suspicious vehicle. With a surveillance system in place, you can help foil terrorist attempts and play an important role in maintaining safety in your community.

Visit us next week for another post in our series about terrorism surveillance. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Allied Universal, 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.

The Power of Knowing Where to Go

Monday, May 17th, 2010

As the leader in emergency management training solutions, Allied Universal, Inc. is continually improving our award-winning products. We have just introduced a new feature to our comprehensive program that assists emergency responders and improves tenant safety.

Our integrated training system offers a dynamic home page for every commercial property owner who uses our product. The home page details important information for each property including:

  1. Required online courses to be completed
  2. Floor Warden reports
  3. Additional safety contact information

The latest feature featured on the building home page is our “View Map” link, which provides emergency responders with multiple views of individual properties and the surrounding areas. The maps not only provide driving directions to the building. But, more importantly, they provide access to Google Earth 3-D views of the surrounding area. Such detail prevents emergency responders from “flying blind” in an emergency. While en route, they will be able to assess the building’s best access points, so they won’t lose valuable time once they arrive. Access to real-time map information can also aid in running emergency drills.

“View Map” Feature Available for Every Building

3-D View helps responders determine ideal tactics for dealing with emergencies and gives a sense of scale for the building and any surrounding structures.

This new map feature is a perfect complement to other fire department integration features of Version 2.0 in our comprehensive safety training program

  • Fire Departments have access to the Allied Universal System clients’ properties, in their particular cities, viewable through the easy-to-navigate home page.
  • Department managers can monitor individual building testing and training of Floor Wardens and Fire Safety Directors.

Additional Newer Features of our Version 2.0

Real-time reporting with just one click:

  • Identify tenants that need special assistance in emergencies

Automated Features:

  • The system automatically creates and sends certificates to each user
  • Annual reminders are sent to each user to ensure ongoing training compliance and optimal tenant safety

Improved Confidentiality and System Control:

  • Controlled information distribution, with multiple tiers of system access

Our integrated map feature is the latest example of how our training system was built with dynamic flexibility. Online and integrated tools that bring together fire departments, facility management, and other entities, allow us to continually improve our system to meet tenants’ needs.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Allied Universal, 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.