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Lockdowns: New Zealand’s Latest Crisis

This short article follows the recent webinar RiskLogic Australia and our sister company, FirstAction presented on Emergency Management and response technology. The full webinar can be found here.

Rowan Allsop, National Operations and Training Manager at FirstAction has extensive knowledge and experience when it comes to lockdowns.

During his interview in the recent webinar, Rowan confirmed that unfortunately, lockdowns are becoming more common. Increasingly around the world, emergency services are going into lockdown after events.

You should divide an event like this into three areas:

  1. Shelter in place: Usually used during storms or other weather events, where it is advised nobody leaves or enters.
  2. Lockdown: Where the safety and welfare of individuals in a workplace or location are at risk. Again, nobody in and nobody out.
  3. Activate Aggressor or terrorist: Run, hide, see and tell.

The fundamentals of a response

The Emergency Management industry is guilty or overcomplicating terms. If we look to simplify the assessment process, we can make better emergency management decisions and reduce overwhelming information.

Rowan introduced a concept within FirstAction – stay or gowhich is now adopted within RiskLogic.

To conduct a simple and effective assessment, Rowan advises clients to answer whether to stay or go in the initial assessment of the event. This quick decision should be made by a senior, pre-agreed individual who has had the relevant training to make that call.

Regardless of who that person is, the activation of the next steps requires swift and thorough communications (something you should practice far in advance).

Communication between the crisis or emergency team, the officials confirming the lockdown (i.e. the police and emergency services) and your people should be as smooth as possible and tested regularly.

Your communication channels need to consider the challenge of reaching people who are trying to hide or stay silent. It must also persuade people to stay away from the danger areas, even if they have children or loved ones there.

We’ve seen in the past that schools especially struggle with worried parents arriving and trying to get their children away.

It’s also important to formally agree on who ends the lockdown?

Examples of Lockdown announcement

An example of an incorrect example when Police had advised all to remain in lockdown, especially schools.

If the police give the all clear, who then communicates that with your people?

Common blind spots

Rowan has seen on a few occasions that clients have trained their staff regularly on evacuations and lockdowns which tend to run between 15 to 30 minutes. The reality is, lockdowns can last much longer.

Our team has heard feedback from a leadership group for a local retail outlet. During the events of March 15th, many worried staff and customers became more and more concerned about the lockdown and were struggling to get information.

Our contact remained calm on the phone to the store manager and CEO and advised them to embrace their surroundings. These people were in a two-storey, large department shop with access to food and water. The instruction was to “send everyone down to the café, have them fed, have them sit on our couches, have them relax”.

Commonly the issue is keeping people calm when the hours tick over during tense situations. You can’t always exercise a 3-4 hour lockdown, but you can train your mindset to handle one.

Use tools to help you

Technology can and is used for good. Alerts, notifications and check-in options allow people to communicate and stay safe during times of chaos.

RiskLogic & FirstAction has embraced technology as a way for our clients to maintain calm and stay on top of the situation.

But, it’s important to always remember that it is people who run the technology. Without training and setting a culture of resilience, it will not be as effective.

While now is the time of mourning for many, soon will be the time for difficult questions and periods for review.

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