International Security Week Event Director, Rachael Shattock, explains how facilities managers can learn from those who have come out of the other side of a disaster.

Facilities management professionals take on all types of responsibility on behalf of those they serve, none more important and fundamental than the responsibility for the safety of those within and around a building.

As a key part of their role, facilities managers (FMs) do their utmost to prevent serious security breaches or physical harm to building occupants through meticulous planning, but the reality is that crises can still happen. For example, the UK experienced 64 terrorist attacks in 2019, while 729,910 incidents were attended to by the UK Fire Service in the same year.

Ultimately, what counts is the response from FMs – is the plan effectively and efficiently implemented, with room for adaptation as circumstances rapidly change? How can FMs mitigate the detrimental impact of natural or man-made disasters on infrastructure, human lives and the economy?

With many office workers currently working from home, there is no better time for FMs to update their emergency response skillset and review the key elements of a successful disaster recovery strategy. As part of International Securtiy Week (ISWeek), we delve into the practical lessons learned from recent events.

Lessons learned from COVID-19 No one wants to experience a disaster, but the realities of a crisis often differ from the theory, which is why it’s crucial that we learn from individuals who have first-hand experience of dealing with threats such as terrorism, international incidents and of course, a global pandemic.

Lessons learned from the pandemic have come thick and fast according to Sebastian Basset-James, Director of The Emergency Planning Society (EPS), who will join a panel discussion on what COVID-19 has taught us about resilience, short term emergency procedures and longer- term planning. Jason Towse, Managing Director Soft Services at Mitie, will take part in a fireside chat about challenges associated with such a practical response to a global disaster, focusing on the UK’s phenomenal


achievement in building and opening a fully equipped 3,000-bed hospital in just 10 days.

Women in a crisis According to the International Labour Organisation, more than 70% of healthcare workers are women, and they typically take on the frontline disaster response, while also being disproportionally affected by crises.

Reflecting this, the number of women in senior disaster response has been increasing rapidly in recent years, and we have seen a tranche of capable female disaster management response leaders emerging over the last decade, offering new and impactful perspectives. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed and former Minister for International Development will give a keynote speech on Day Four, exploring the importance of preparation ahead of disasters.

Tracy Daszkiewicz, Deputy Director of Population Health & Wellbeing at Public Health England, who famously managed the aftermath of the Salisbury poisonings will join Chair of EPS, Jacqui Semple, in a panel discussion about the effective management of a crisis, drawing on their experience dealing with Coronavirus this year.

Disaster Response and beyond ISWeek comes at an important time for facilities management professionals, providing an opportunity for businesses continue to evolve their security and disaster response through uncertain and unprecedented times. The four-day event will touch on all aspects of crisis prevention and management relevant to FMs, such as Protect Duty legislation, cyber threat mitigation and access control.

International Security Week runs from 30th November – 3rd December international-security-week

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