Having a moose fall into a window well might not be included in an Organizational Hazards and Threats List, but it’s also unlikely to be at the top. We are more likely to find fire, physical threats and natural events occur, but should such a low-probability and potentially high-consequence event change our preparedness programs?
An incident involving a moose falling down a window well wouldn’t score high on a Risk Matrix; it has a low-probability and a moderate consequence. This wouldn’t have the same level of consequence as having a train derailment while transporting hazardous materials – this would still have a low-probability, but catastrophic consequences.
Bellevue Hospital in New York had to live through a low-probability, high-consequence event during Hurricane Sandy. It would be difficult to anticipate, draw out a plan, and prepare for a hurricane scenario where a hospital’s basement quickly flooded, making elevators inoperable and caused the evacuation of vulnerable patients very difficult to execute. To make the scenario worse, the facility’s fuel pumps are also to be submerged, therefore unable to transport its fuel to the hospital’s generators and would require staff to carry fuel-filled pales through 13 floors. It would be a challenge, to say the least, to come up with a scenario where everything fails. Even if someone were to suggest such a scenario, an organization would not agree to practice it, as they would perceive that high-consequence and high-probability events are a better investment of resources.
Nevertheless, outlier events happen, and organizations must account for them in their business continuity plans. This is accomplished through an All-Hazard Approach: rather than focusing on creating plans for each event, it is important to come up with strategies that can create a framework for a response. For example, the process of moving out of a building (evacuation) is the same regardless of the need for it. There can be differences, of course, but having an all-encompassing strategy in place on how to ensure a safe evacuation of all occupants with various needs for assistance is the focus of the process. Once a plan is established, it can be modified to fit the requirements of a specific emergency.
Ultimately, it was an All-Hazard approach that allowed the Colorado Firefighters and EMS to rescue the trapped moose. They used a pulley system that is regularly used for rescuing people and vehicles, adapting it to lifting an 800-pound moose.
Within your organization, focus on creating plans that can capture responses for as many hazards and threats on your list as possible and create comprehensive training and exercise programs to ensure all staff are confident with the procedures.
Written by Paladin Security Group Manager of Emergency Management and Business Continuity, Katie Subbotina. Katie joined Paladin Security in 2016, bringing with her experience, skills and expertise that enrich the Group’s Specialized Services. She has attained her Master’s Degree in Emergency and Disaster Management from York University and holds a number of Emergency Management of Ontario certificates, including Incident Management System (IMS) 100, 200, 300, Exercise Program Design (EM 125) and Basic Emergency Management (EM 200).
During her Master’s Degree, Katie focused her research on various aspects of first responder health, and successfully completed a Major Research Project titled, “Health Risk Analysis of Internationally Deploying First Responders,” which was selected for a presentation at the 6th International Conference on Building Resilience in Auckland, NZ. Her thesis is now available in print through a Springer publication. Katie regularly presents at various international conferences, allowing her to stay current with emergency trends and standards in Emergency Management.