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Crisis Cast revisited

In the December 2017 print issue of Professional Security magazine, we featured exercise scenarios; should you go for a terror or other worst-case? At the BCI World 2017 conference in London, Richard Bond of the resilience, security and risk team at the engineering consultancy Arup spoke about ‘designing credible terrorism threat scenarios to inform business continuity exercises’.

Related questions include who takes the training, and where’s the money coming from?! As Brian Mitchell of Crisis Cast told Professional Security, after he gave a talk to the UK Security Expo 2017 at London Olympia, pictured, everyone wants training exercises, but have no budget. One way to get people to add realism to an exercise is to use volunteers. But who are the exercises for? Those volunteers? The armed police officers, who know how to use their guns anyway?

We featured Crisis Cast in our January 2015 issue, after Brian spoke at the Transec 2014 exhibition (now the UK Security Expo); the trainers still offer what Brian terms ‘high fidelity learning’, that’s ‘immersive’, using actors to make it real for those first responders. Brian, a lead producer for Crisis Cast, spelt out what many of us know from past experience – what a bad, or poorly-thought out shall we say, exercise can be like; when everyone knows it’s make-believe, and goes through the motions.

Professional Security once saw one of the actors in action; when Brian was introducing his company to an upstairs room in London. He told the audience that there was a need to stay in the room because of an incident downstairs; a man got up, saying that he had to get out; because one of his family was outside. The man was utterly believable – he turned out to be an actor, but in the meantime, how would you – if you were the manager tasked with keeping people in the room (because of an invacuation?) convince this man to do as he was told? As he got more frantic, because he was genuinely worried about a loved one? If words failed, would you resort to slugging the man? Is that good management?!

In a Crisis Cast ‘immersive scenario’, you don’t have a volunteer in a car seat waiting to be freed by the fire brigade, and maybe shifting her body helpfully as the firefighter moves in, because she’s been through it all before; instead she’s a mother with their child in the back seat. That’s an actor, with a back-story – something that Crisis Cast gives to all those taking part. That way, as Brian explained, those taking the training see an emotional connection between themselves, and the victim. And start behaving accordingly.

Or, to take another scenario, if someone from your company has been kidnapped while on business; what if an irate father turns up, wanting to know what’s happened? You might find, Brian suggested, that someone in the team has skills that they didn’t know they had. (Or, highly-placed people, with the responsibility to be the front of the business, might not stand up well to the stress of such emotionally real events; better to know this and give further training, or give the task to someone else, before the real thing.)

More in the January 2018 print issue of Professional Security.

About Crisis Cast

As seen at the annual invitation-only Security and Policing exhibitions at Farnborough, and at Intersec in Dubai, the company provides ‘crisis and disaster management and crisis control simulations’, which might include the media management of such a crisis in real time, such as responding to TV cameras and unfolding social media. Visit


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