Washington meeting puts focus on recovery strategies

WASHINGTON D.C.— As companies continue to grapple with a variety of supply chain security issues more and more of their efforts are being focused on what to do after an incident occurs

WASHINGTON D.C.— As companies continue to grapple with a variety of supply chain security issues – everything from the threat of terrorism to cargo theft – more and more of their efforts are being focused on what to do after an incident occurs, such as how to deal with the media, operate their businesses with assets and/or personnel unavailable for use, and how to reroute freight if primary routes are closed off to them. Although not planned with natural disasters in mind, much of the meeting’s content was germane to dealing with the aftermath of an event like Hurricane Katrina.

The implementation of strategies for recovery at was the focus of a two-day meeting here in the nation’s capital, hosted jointly by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and International Cargo Security Council (ICSC), on how companies can maintain a “continuity of operations” in the face of either a criminal or terrorist event that disrupts business life.

“We already have a security plan in place – what we’re looking to do now is to improve our response plan for when something happens,” Bill Bennett, director of safety for Columbia, NC-based Southeastern Freight Lines, told Fleet Owner. “We’re not so much worried about someone hijacking our vehicles as we are about one of our trucks being stolen and used as a weapon, or something dangerous being put on one of our vehicles while the driver is making deliveries. That’s what really concerns us.”

“What’s critical is that public and private organizations develop ‘living guidelines’ for their security plans so their plans are flexible and thoroughly tested in real world exercises, so they can be perpetually maintained,” said Dr. Oliver Wainwright, director of corporate security for Nutley, NJ-based pharmaceutical company Hoffman LaRoche. “It must be dynamic and interactive – a security plan cannot sit on a shelf. You must focus on the factors in it that can insure your company’s survival in the event of a disaster, natural or man made.”

Dan Defenbaugh, president of Addison, TX-based security firm Defenbaugh and Associates and a former FBI agent with 33 years of experience, noted that companies must recognize the “threats” their security plan shall face can’t be limited to just terrorism.

“You must conduct a thorough threat assessment and look at international and domestic terrorists, criminal activity such as gangs, vandalism, hackers and other IT mischief, plus criminal activity from someone on the inside,” he said. “Remember also that local police and fire departments are very happy to assist not only in your security assessment of your facilities but in recovery suggestions. One thing about chaos is that it will end – but how soon it ends – and ends in your favor – depends on your planning, training, and recovery plan.”

Jim Cope, who helped guide the pharmaceutical industry’s 1982 response to the lacing of Tylenol capsules with cyanide in Chicago, which killed seven people, added that companies must not and should not limit their crisis plan focus to any one event. “A crisis can be caused by accidents, sabotage, terrorism, murder, extortion, random tampering, personal profit, even insanity – but the handling of it by the company is the same,” he explained. “The key is to have a ‘crisis management plan’ in place that determines the resources and personnel you will need to handle a crisis both short- and long-term – and then review that crisis plan every six months.”

Cope said a major area overlooked by most security plans is how to deal with the media. During the 1982 Tylenol tampering scare, he said the pharmaceutical industry handled 2,500 press contacts in the first two weeks, with the first news conference held on the issue packed with over 1,000 journalists, 57 microphones, and 12 to 15 television cameras.

“The key to crisis communication is to tell it all and tell it fast,” Cope said. “During a period of crisis, fear, or concern, the media’s need for information is voracious – they have space and time needs and you have to fill them. Never miss their deadline as they will report something – and misinformation is harmful and difficult to catch up with.”

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