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Travel crisis simulation morning

The west London base of the medical and security emergency response company International SOS hosted with the Security Institute a live crisis simulation yesterday morning. After a look at the company’s control centre, run with the risk consultancy Control Risks, corporate managers and consultants found themselves around tables, each playing the part of a crisis management team (CMT).

The fictitious but realistic scenario set by ISOS; you were a growing software company looking to make an announcement in Mexico City. Your various chiefs were staying at a hotel to unveil an acquisition. Wolfgang the chief finance officer – usually the life and soul of the party – out of character did not turn up for a 9.30pm meeting with the execs of the acquired firm. He wasn’t answering his mobile, and his laptop had gone missing too.

Had he been unprofessional and let his hair down too much; was he just in his hotel room sleeping it off; or was he ill, or had he been kidnapped? How to react, and who ought to know? This was only the first stage of an unfolding scenario that each table as a CMT had to debate and come to a decision on, as Wolfgang became the least of the problems for everyone involved.

The morning did bring out many things; how a CMT (perhaps gathered by Skype, or in an office on another continent from the crisis) has to assess the impact of an incident, as it struggles to bring together information; how any decision may not be obvious, or obviously right or wrong, given that the CMT doesn’t know all the details; and even how difficult it can be to keep track of decisions made, let alone to account for people caught up in a crisis, whether natural or man-made.

Opening the morning for the Security Institute, the Institute director Paul Barnard, featured in the May print issue of Professional Security, described it as a first event for a travel special interest group (SIG) of the Institute, about to be launched.

Briefly about International SOS with Control Risks; its London assistance centre is on the idyllic Chiswick Park business estate in W4; it has a total of 26, from Frankfurt, Paris and Madrid to Mumbai, Bali, Sydney and Hanoi. Besides offering advice in advance to customers (as that can mean reduced risk when travelling on business), the company can carry out evacuations, whether for medical or security reasons. The companies for example deployed in Colombo and gave advice after the April 21 Sri Lanka terrorist bombs; and in Pakistan in late February during escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan, over Kashmir.

More in the July 2019 print issue of Professional Security.

Photo courtesy of International SOS.


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