Evacuations - Can you rely on external help?
Case Study: Egypt
In 2011 the US Embassy going to ordered departure triggered a large scale evacuation from Egypt including companies that would have otherwise sought to ride out the storm and continue business albeit on a much reduced basis.
Contractors tied to US DOD contracts were obliged to follow the order evacuating staff and families from Egypt witnessing first hand the chaos of an airport overwhelmed by departures and panic. Thankfully our clients were more than ahead of the curve having recently completed and updated evacuations plans and rehearsals at the end of 2010.
Pre-planning and rehearsals were not their only benefit. The plans drafted over the previous years were all heavily weighted on a self-help model to take into consideration the possibility that external help would be impossible to obtain and manage - including that of our own teams.
The effects of plans reliant on external third-parties was obvious in-country. Even though we did deploy a consultant to assist our clients we became inundated with calls from others that had been let down at one point or another by providers tied in through retained contracts some of which were viewed as 'insurance' for such an event.
These providers, having sold a large number of these 'policies' were themselves overwhelmed when everyone started to call looking to cash in their chips...
There are no certainties during any sudden breakdown of security, law and order, conflict or disaster. A business must have some level of self-reliance and the practised ability to move people in a secure manner to holding areas and/ or departure points. Each scenario will throw up its own uncertainties and problems that the team will need to deal with and through solid practice and a simple but effective plan it can be done.
When we add in the potential for our team to deploy and assist the matter does become easier to manage but we never build our plans with that in mind. We know it doesn't work.