Security Drills: What organizations can learn from Strathmore tragedy

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Strathmore University was yesterday treated to a surprise security drill conducted by the security forces to test the institution’s preparedness in the event of an emergency, especially a terror attack. In what is seen as a failed security drill, a member of staff succumbed to injuries while scores were injured in the stampede. This unfortunate event caused a rage in the social media where many people condemned the administration for allowing the drill to take place which caught students unawares. Some people who were part of the team conducting the drill allegedly came dressed like the outlawed Al Shabaab militia giving the students and the staff the impression that they were under attack. This prompted them to flee for their lives while some jumped from as high as fourth floor of a building. Those caught in the stampede were injured while others were psychologically traumatised. Although the school administration have publicly apologized and promised to foot the medical bills of those injured, the Vice Chancellor claims that they were caught unawares despite the fact that training had been done before.

Emergency drills are common all around the world. They are conducted in institutions and organizations to test the readiness of the people and the strategies put in place in the event of an actual emergency. Such are conducted at different times and it is advisable that the organizations conduct the drills at least once in about twelve months. Emergencies such as fire or terror attack could occur in a firm and there needs to be a plan to deal with that in the least time possible. Such drills gauge how people react in the event of emergencies and are later trained on what to do. To avoid a scenario like that one at Strathmore university, organizations should aim to conduct the emergency drills in proper ways such as:

Make prior communication to the staff

The members of staff are trusted to steer the organization and should be informed well in advance before the drill is conducted. This will ensure that they give guidelines to the people in the building such as directing them to the emergency exit doors or showing them alternative escape routes. They should be aware of the emergency drill.

Train the employees

All the employees should be trained to know who should be where at whatever time. They should be taught how to handle emergency equipment such as handling fire extinguishers and when to turn on the alarm in case of any emergency. They should be trained on how to report the incidences without panicking and how to offer some aid prior to the arrival of expert services from doctors and security forces.

Essentials to disaster preparedness. Infographic from http://www.polygongroup.com/us/turning-awareness-action-national-preparedness-month/
Essentials to disaster preparedness. Infographic from http://www.polygongroup.com/us/turning-awareness-action-national-preparedness-month/

Attention to detail

The team conducting the emergency drill should have measures in place to observe the actual turn of events and record what goes on during the drill. The time the drill lasts should be noted as well as the behaviour of the people. This forms the basis for reference later on. The time taken should be reasonable so that it does not appear like an actual attack or emergency.

Shun routine

Although the emergency drills are important to test the preparedness of a firm, the organisation should not overdo it by conducting them all the time. If this was done, people would get used to the drills that they would be reluctant to react in the event of an actual emergency. Again, the drills should not be so obvious that people don’t feel obliged to take part in them.

Feedback is paramount

Once the drill is done, the team should get feedback on what people thought of it. People’s reactions should be used to either improve or implement the emergency preparedness. Rather than be harmful to the people, the drills should aim at improving preparedness.

A big issue is that many students said that they had never been trained on emergency preparedness before. Universities and institutions should have mandatory sessions for people to learn about how to stay safe. A great example of how to create a safety video can be seen in this video by Ohio University.

Surviving an Active Shooter

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