A transcript of the above video is below.
Ollie Law | It’s almost hard to believe it’s been twelve months since New Zealand went through arguably, its darkest day.
While observing trends, we saw a ripple effect of panic around communities and organisations understanding on how to handle another terrorist attack, or even another lockdown situation.
Interestingly though, this same ripple effect is happening again leading to questions whether we’ve taken the time or had the opportunity to learn from last year’s crisis.
I reached out to two of our senior consultants to get their impressions on what they’ve seen in the last twelve months, specifically in the education sector and within New Zealand.
Cheryl Hambley | Since March 15th, we’ve had a lot of incidents occur across the education sector, so it’s not just being an active shooter in March.
It’s also been a number of bushfires, heat related incidents, storms and now the COVID-19 virus. So, the schools are undergoing a lot of changes in the incident world. They’re having to deal with multiple incidents at the same time, which is placing challenges on the critical incident management teams and their ability to manage multiple incidents, but also be able to manage the multitude of information that’s actually coming through.
Brad Law | Interestedly, I guess the positive things was organisation, particularly in the education sector, doing post incident reviews, to the point where, engaging external professionals to come in and run those reviews and come back with some very good learnings and feedback and recommendations on going forward. So, from what was a terrible event, some positive things that have come out of that, key things being around the communication peace; having pre-established comms in place and having your lockdown procedures in place so that everybody understands.
Cheryl Hambly | One of the challenges the schools are finding is where to actually get the support from particular with the multitude of information that they’re having come in from the incident. Some schools are working the information channels really, really effectively and finding the right sources of information. Some of the schools are actually getting more into the business continuity side of things and making sure that should there be a longer-term disruption, they can recover in the longer term. So, I have noticed that there are some schools that are now focussing on getting the business continuity planning components completed and integrated with the critical incident management plans and then completing training and exercising on top of that.
Brad Law | One of the other key findings out of the post incident reviews and the reports was the point that we should be training our staff, providing training for response to these unexpected events. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a bit of a slowdown and actually those sessions being run; identified as being a finding really should’ve been put into action a lot quicker. So, we’re still encouraging and hoping and telling our clients that we actually need to provide these training sessions for our staff.
Cheryl Hambly | So the lessons learnt from the march last year, certainly the teams are forming a little bit sooner. They’re meeting to assess the situation, to determine what the next steps are going to be. They’re now facing the fatigue of having to manage business as usual situation as well as term one and getting everything kicked off for the year, as well as now dealing with a potential situation that may last them another few weeks, if not a few more months.
Brad Law | What we’re actually starting to see now is staff asking for those training sessions, which is a complete turnaround in years gone by. So they actually want to know how to do a lockdown or an evacuation or whatever it might be. So, that’s encouraging, but we do as an organisation need to start delivering those sessions.
Cheryl Hambly | Leading into that is the business continuity piece, the people that don’t have business continuity, we’re actually developing a lot of the business continuity components of their plans, developing critical incident management plans, at least in the initial pieces that they need to get started for the next few weeks. And then that will lead into a longer-term planning for any type of disruption that they face. It’s just staying strong, there is a lot happening in the industry at the moment. Pull together as a team. You can achieve what you need to as a team and make sure your getting in there early to assess what’s actually happening.
Brad Law | Twelve months on from the 15th March, we’re now back in another crisis event.
Cheryl Hambly | You know, you’re not looking at just the next couple of weeks. This could go for a few months. So, start looking at the fatigue management processes, look at succession planning, start bringing some alternative into your team meetings to prepare them.
Brad Law | The buzz phrase at the moment is working from home and what does that look like, and people are scrambling around to try and invoke this strategy. This strategy should not be new to us, we could have used this on the 15th of March where, for example, staff did not come back into work the next day or two days, because they were nervous or uncomfortable. We could have invoked our work from home strategy then.
Cheryl Hambly | Also start factoring in for an extended disruption. If you do end up with any team members that fall ill, you need to be able to plan for having a much smaller team to be able to respond, but take the principles of incident management. The principles are the same, whether it’s COIVD-19, whether it’s for a bushfire or a storm. The principles are generally the same. Assess the situation, make a decision, pull together as a team and work together as a team.
Brad Law | So we really should be learning from crisis to crisis, understanding what we did in one versus what to do the next. But we really should be learning from crisis to crisis, understanding what we did in one, versus the next. But they shouldn’t be different, our strategies for invoking loss of people, loss of people, loss of I-T, loss of facilities; it’s the same strategy. Once you’ve got it embedded, we can then use it one each crisis comes our way.