Emergency Management

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Business Community

Terrorist operations and criminal activity can begin with extensive planning. Before an attack, terrorists will gather detailed information about a target by watching patterns of daily activity.

As a member of the community you can help prevent and detect terrorism and other types of crime, by watching out for suspicious activities and reporting them to the proper authorities.

Be Alert

During the course of business, be alert for activities that might indicate someone is conducting surveillance of a potential target.

  • Does someone seem unusually interested in security staff, points of entry, fences, wall or access controls?
  • Is someone staring at or quickly looking away from personnel or vehicles entering facilities or parking areas?
  • Has someone been seen observing security drills and/or procedures?
  • Is anyone hanging around who is not normally seen in your area, such as someone disguised as a panhandler or street vendor?
  • Is anyone discreetly taking pictures, making sketches or taking notes at a non-tourist location?
  • Have you noticed the same individual use multiple sets of clothing (uniforms) and identification?
  • Has anyone been questioning security personnel?
  • Have you noticed an increased number of anonymous telephone or e-email threats at your place of employment? If this is happening along with suspected surveillance incidents, someone might be testing your procedures for reacting to threats.

Suspicious behavior might also include more serious activities that might indicate planning for a terrorist attack such as:

  • Attempts to gain sensitive information about facilities through personal contact, telephone, mail or e-mail
  • Attempts to enter a facility or tests of security response procedures
  • Attempts to improperly acquire explosives, weapons, ammunition, dangerous chemicals, flight manuals or other materials which could be used in a terrorist attack
  • Suspicious or improper attempts to acquire official vehicles, uniforms, badges, access cards, or identification for key facilities
  • The presence of individuals who do not appear to belong in or near the workplace
  • Individuals who appear to be mapping out routes, playing out scenarios, monitoring key facilities, timing event or exchanging signals
  • Stockpiling suspicious materials or abandoning potential containers for explosives, including vehicles or suitcases

Many of these activities, in and of themselves, may not indicate criminal activity. Taken together, however, they may be a cause for concern. If you observe people acting suspiciously, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement.

Protective Measures

  • Control access to your building
  • Restrict access to ventilation systems
  • Check identification
  • Require all deliveries to be scheduled in advance
  • Check garbage containers regularly for signs of tampering
  • Consider installing motion detectors
  • Use fire and smoke detectors
  • Consider using heat sensors and metal detectors
  • Consider using surveillance cameras
  • Use lighting in perimeter and parking areas, as well as in buildings

Emergency Planning for Businesses

As a business owner or manager, your emergency planning team should include all areas of your business, not just facility managers or public safety personnel. You should also include human resources, finance, administration and executive level personnel.

The Seven Critical Elements of a Business Emergency Plan

  1. Direction & Control: Who is in charge of making critical decisions, managing resources, analyzing information? Ensure that the chain of command during an emergency is clear to all of your employees.
  2. Communications: How will you contact your employees? Your customers? Neighboring businesses? Local officials?
  3. Life Safety: Teach your employees about evacuation vs. sheltering-in-place. Identify external assembly areas if you are evacuated. Establish a system to account for your employees. Plan for employees with special needs or disabilities.
  4. Property Protection: Make sure you have plans for shutting down or moving critical equipment. Identify critical records or data and consider backing them up at another location.
  5. Public Information/Media Relations: After a large emergency affecting your business, media representatives will want to speak with you. Consider preparing background information about your company. Some companies designate and train a spokesperson who can speak comfortably with the media and provide critical information to clients and customers.
  6. Recovery & Restoration – Business Continuity Planning:A thorough business continuity plan may help you maintain your business operations throughout an emergency or ensure a quick recovery after an emergency has occurred. A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) should address the following:
    • Essential Functions: Identify and prioritize functions and identify the number of personnel and the equipment needed to perform these functions.
    • Delegation of Authority: Identify personnel who are able to make critical decisions and identify the circumstances under which their authority would be used.
    • Order of Succession: Develop orders of succession of sufficient depth and geographical dispersal for key positions within your department and develop procedures for the conditions under which succession will take place.
    • Alternate Facilities: Identify alternate facilities where priority functions could be performed (home or alternate office space) and describe any limitations for full operations (space, equipment, and infrastructure).
    • Communications: Describe methods of communications needed for operations and tools that are available at alternate facilities.
    • Vital Records & Databases: Identify critical operations documents, financial records, and timekeeping items and describe where how and where they are duplicated.
  7. Administration & Logistics: Maintain complete and accurate records to ensure a more efficient response and recovery; designate personnel to acquire and track supplies and resources.

Contact Us

Polk County Emergency Management
1907 Carpenter Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314
(515) 286-2107

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