On Friday, September 9, just as the country remembered the 15th year since the 9/11 attacks, the Eisenhower Partnership (EP) gathered a distinguished group of speakers from the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA and the City of Alexandria to discuss crisis preparation for property and building owners and businesses large and small located in the City of Alexandria. “Crisis Prep 101,” was the first in what EP hopes will be a series of workshops leading to a more well-prepared City.
Frank Cole, President of the Partnership, greeted participants and got the morning off to a great start with welcoming remarks and introductions. As Director of Administrative Services at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Mr. Cole is well-aware of the need for crisis preparation and planning. He initiated planning at SHRM which led to development of the current workshop presented by the Partnership.
Speakers from Homeland Security and FEMA presented on “Global and Domestic Threat and Disasters,” and Disaster Recover respectively. Participants were informed about the impact of recent events, Including DT “Domestic Terrorism,” and received an overview of the national matrix of planning for all kinds of possible disasters, both by terror and natural means. There was discussion of plans for the inauguration that are in progress. They call it a NSSE “National Special Security Event.” Because of where we live there are many NSSE’s. Discussion and questions followed with the recommendation to check out a valuable website called www.ready.gov for further information and training. The next speakers presented information about “Hometown Security,” including an Active Shooter overview and a presentation on Business Continuity. Speakers said it’s all about Situational Awareness—look around, spot the exits, identify obstacles in your way and scope out a path to get out. Remember, in a crisis your cell phone may not have connectivity for phone calls, but it is likely that you will still have the ability to text.
The City of Alexandria Emergency Preparedness Team led by James Podlucky, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator presented local information from the City’s Fire and Police Department. Of particular interest was the emphasis on training and planning for emergencies. The speakers urged participants to get a plan, train for potential emergencies and get connected to alerts. A COOP “Continuity of Operations” Plan is important for each business. City of Alexandria EMS personnel are willing to come out to review your premises and advise. Each participant received a copy of the brand new “City of Alexandria Emergency Action Tips,” a laminated one-fold card with loads of information about how to handle emergencies. You can receive emergency alerts and customize them by signing up at www.alexandria.gov/eNews. To report suspicious activity, use the “See Something/Send Something,” app from the Virginia Fusion Center (http://www.vsp.state.va.us/FusionCenter/mobileApp.shtm). Your picture or information will be sent to the Virginia State Police for analysis.
Specific tips for businesses included: prepare an emergency action worksheet for your employees; if the building is large, add an evacuation map. Often you will see these maps on walls of public buildings near the doors. Be sure to leave a copy of all the materials by the main entrance to the building for emergency responders. Finally—what can an individual do? Be Informed. Make a Plan. Build a list. Get Involved.
Frank Cole summed up and told all the participants that this was just the beginning of a series of workshops with the goal of a better prepared business community. Watch for news of the next in this series of Crisis Prep workshops.