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Despite the events of September 11, 2001, the number of terrorist events aimed at facilities in the United States has not seen a dramatic increase. While there is growing concern for the safety and well-being of all people and facilities, most organizations have not taken steps to prepare or respond to a terrorist event. With some planning, not only could an organization withstand such an event, but be prepared to provide assistance to their community.

Terrorism can come in many forms. Defined, terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion or ransom. Terrorism against organizations and people might include threats, arson, bombings, or even electronic attacks. One of the current domestic concerns is that of biological or chemical terrorism. Such an attack may be localized or broad-based, and the effects could result in illness or death.

Regardless of the threat, organizations should realize that there are potential threats and have plans in place to both prepare for and respond to them. The following are several of the terrorist concerns that should be considered:

  • Biological threat.
  • Chemical threat.
  • Explosion.
  • Nuclear blast.
  • Radiation.

Each of these threats needs a specific plan of response. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the following steps should be followed.

  1. Establish a team (which may be a part of the organization’s Safety and Security Team).
  2. Analyze the capabilities and hazards.
  3. Develop the plan.
  4. Implement the plan.

In general, the following items are good to have on hand for any emergency:

  • Food and water for three days for all staff members.
  • Flashlights.
  • Radios.
  • Communication devices.
  • Extra batteries.
  • Blankets.
  • A First Aid kit.
  • Emergency contact information.
  • Garbage bags.
  • Moist towelettes.
  • Whistles.
  • A basic tool kit.
  • A designated safe meeting place in the building.
  • An emergency response plan.

In addition, to guard against terrorism, the following items also should be considered:

  • Nose and mouth protective devices.
  • Large sheets of plastic.
  • Duct tape.
  • Filtration fans and air purifier system.
  • Drugs.
    • Potassium Iodide
    • Laxatives
    • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain relievers
    • Anti-diarrhea medication
    • Antacid (for upset stomach)
    • Activated charcoal (Use if advised to do so by the Poison Control Center.)
    • Syrup of Ipecac (Use to induce vomiting if so advised by the Poison Control Center.)

Where many of these items are helpful to address a wide-scale event, organizations also should prepare their staff and members to respond to a single, isolated incident. These include adequately preparing for the following:

  • A menacing person on the premises.
  • A visitor with a gun.
  • A hostage or kidnapping event.
  • Harassing or threatening phone calls.
  • A bomb threat.
  • Suspicious packages.

Your leadership will need to be able to assess and answer these questions quickly:

  • Are we certain of the specific type of threat we are facing?
  • Should we evacuate or go the appropriate shelter?
  • Will we need to create safe barriers using plastic and duct tape?
  • What emergency personnel need to be contacted?
  • Who else in the organization and community needs to be utilized to respond?
  • Does anyone need immediate medical attention?
  • Do we have what they need on-site?

Always seek to do your very best as you prepare for the worst. Have on-hand those things necessary to make a solid response to any situation. And always practice your response, and make changes as appropriate. 

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