Recently, leading security expert Chris Phillips said that the attack on the Lindt café in Sydney, Australia highlights the need for all crowded places to have a contingency plan for implementation in the event of a terrorist attack.
Speaking on behalf of Counter Terror Expo, an conference and expo to be held April 21-22, 2015 in London, Phillips said, “We have to face the reality that locations such as primary schools, shopping malls, and leisure centers are all potential targets for terrorist attack today. They should all develop and rehearse an emergency response plan just as they do with fire drills.”
With the assaults occurring in France this week—the terror attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, followed by the related hostage situations at a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele and a supermarket in eastern Paris, Phillips’ list of recommendations are brought to the fore of many facility professionals’ minds. (News outlets are currently reporting all terrorists have been killed.) While the Charlie Hebdo offices and the printing plant are not public, crowded facilities, managers in all settings can benefit from these tips.
Phillips is the founder and managing director of the UK-based firm International Protect and Prepare Security Office (IPPSO). Drawing on his extensive experience, he makes these recommendations:
1. Understand that a terrorist attack is very different situation to a fire and there are different options to consider.
2. While evacuation is usually the standard response to a fire, a security emergency may instead necessitate a lockdown, as sending people out could be more dangerous. Establish where the safe places are in the premises.
3. If hiding from the attackers, create a barricade, stay away from doors, and remain quiet.
4. Consider how you communicate in an emergency (e.g. alarms or group texting).
5. Be ready to communicate key messages, such as “Stay away from corridors and evacuate through windows.”
6. Unless evacuating, stay away from windows which can cause numerous injuries in the event of an explosion.
7. Understand the need to communicate with emergency services and what they need to know (e.g. the number of suspects, the types of weapons they are using, their location or direction of travel).
8. First aid kits and people trained to use them are an essential.
9. Practice the plans just as you would a fire drill.
Phillips founded IPPSO after 30 years as a police officer and has extensive policing experience in both public order and community based policing. This included event commander for major sporting events at venues such as Twickenham Stadium and Wimbledon. A highly experienced Police Security Co-ordinator (SECCO), Phillips coordinated the Counter Terrorist security for visits to the UK from foreign governments and dignitaries. He is a former Head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office.