Mitigating Mistakes: Inadequate emergency preparedness

Sept. 11, 2020
Though organizations may possess equipment required by codes, many still lack a full spectrum of needed supplies

Editor’s note: “Mitigating Mistakes” is a monthly column series from security consultant and author Paul Timm featuring photos of security vulnerabilities discovered in the field followed by a discussion on the problems they present to a facility’s security posture and how they can be addressed.

Finding: While conducting security assessments, I often encounter facilities that have an inadequate amount of emergency supplies. To be clear, entities usually possess code-driven items, such as fire extinguishers and first aid kits. In some cases, they also have automated external defibrillators (AEDs). With the advent of COVID-19, facilities now even carry personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizer. What’s missing? These facilities lack critical incident tools and supplies.

Problem: If and when a critical incident occurs, building occupants will not have emergency supplies at their disposal. Imagine lacking flashlights during a power failure. What if there were no trauma kits in a situation where someone suffered a significant injury?

Lesson: Do not wait for a significant emergency to expose your deficiencies. Assess your threats. What incidents might occur? What emergency supplies would be useful? Where should they be stored?  

Remedy: Engage key stakeholders in emergency planning now. Include emergency responders. Acquire appropriate emergency supplies, such as trauma kits, wind-up flashlights and bullhorns. Store them in strategic areas. Inform employees to improve awareness and preparedness. Routinely provide instruction.  

About the Author:

Paul Timm, Vice President of Facility Engineering Associates, is a board-certified Physical Security Professional (PSP), the author of School Security: How to Build and Strengthen a School Safety Programand a nationally acclaimed expert in physical security. In addition to conducting numerous vulnerability assessments and his frequent keynote addresses, Paul is an experienced Crisis Assistance Team volunteer through the National Organization for Victims Assistance (NOVA). He is certified in Vulnerability Assessment Methodology (VAM) through Sandia National Laboratories and the ALPHA vulnerability assessment methodology. He is also a member of ASIS International’s School Safety & Security Council and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials’ Risk Management Committee. Paul recently earned his Master’s degree from Moody Theological Seminary.