Magazine article Management Review

Before the Bomb Drops: What Every Business Needs to Know to Prepare for the Ultimate Business Disaster

Magazine article Management Review

Before the Bomb Drops: What Every Business Needs to Know to Prepare for the Ultimate Business Disaster

Article excerpt

The bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, left the business community shaken. Yet, it also wakened the business community to the dangers of bombings and bomb threats.

Following the Oklahoma City bombing, business and government buildings in many parts of the country had to be evacuated because of bomb threats. Threats and actual bombings are not as rare an occurrence as you might imagine. Following are just a few recent instances:

* Three weeks before the Oklahoma City bombing, a bombing of the U.S, Forest Service office in Carson City blew out windows and created a big hole in the office.

* A serial bomber, using a bomb sent by mail, killed the president of the California Forestry Association on April 24.

* The FBI has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of a suspect who appears to be connected with several bombings of innocent people, including a businessman in New Jersey who was killed by a letter bomb.

* On June 29, Los Angeles International Airport received a bomb threat that disrupted airmail delivery and caused massive delays over the July Fourth holiday.

* The bombing in New York of the World Trade Center in 1993 is hardly out of our memories, and its effects will linger.

Explosives-related statistics tell us we have to be on guard. According to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, there were 19,962 explosives-related incidents in the United States from 1989 to 1993. Damage from these incidents is estimated to have cost more than $640 million; there were 258 reported fatalities and 3,419 reported injuries.

Although the chances that you or your business will ever have to deal with a bomb incident are minuscule, you should still be prepared to handle the situation so your business is not completely disabled as a result of panic.

Methods of Attack

There are basically two methods of attacking people with bombs in a non-war setting: putting a bomb in or adjacent to a building or motor vehicle, or putting a bomb in a letter or package. Businesspeople and government employees need to be especially careful with these types of devices.

With this in mind, you must establish procedures in your organization to deal with the threat of a bomb or explosion. General management should take the lead in preparing employees psychologically to deal with explosives-related incidents. The Protection of Assets Manual, published by The Merritt Co. in Santa Monica, Calif., advises that each worker be made aware of the following: that the facility has considered bomb threats and incidents; that preventive planning has been done and some security resources put in place; and that if a serious situation occurs, all workers will be promptly notified and given instructions they can follow.

The first thing to do if you receive a bomb threat over the telephone is to record as much information as possible. It would help to have a blank form available at each telephone for the purpose (see sample form above).

Stay calm. The caller will try to get you to panic, and panic is contagious. Put down the date and time of the call. Then listen for any clues that might aid the police in identifying the location of the caller and telephone number. Are there traffic noises, machinery noises, radio or TV noises in the background? Did the caller seem to be sincere? Does the caller seem to know what your business or agency does in the building? Is the caller familiar with the building? Can you recognize any special speech characteristics.? Is the caller male or female.? Do you recognize the person's voice? Could the caller be a former, perhaps recently discharged, employee? (The human resources or office manager should keep a record of discharged employees, especially those who threatened to "get even.")

Looking for Clues

Try to determine the time of detonation, what kind of device has been planted, and where it is located. …

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