The Importance of Being Prepared

The Importance of Being Prepared
Emergency preparedness has become a critical consideration for U.S. citizens traveling overseas. Development of a safety- and security-minded culture is critical to an organization. Although development of emergency preparedness plans generally falls on senior-level staff, adherence to and compliance with these plans often falls on the layman who may travel to security “hotspots” or be faced with the fallout from a national disaster. To maintain security awareness, employees need to understand that they are also a crucial part of the equation.

By examining three recent crises around the world in which U.S. private-sector organizations found their crisis-management plans put into action, this report looks to encourage OSAC constituents to develop new (or reassess existing) plans by considering lessons learned from those who shared their experiences. It also offers basic advice on training personnel to consider emergency-preparedness as part of their job, even if their position falls outside the realm of organizational security.

Lessons Learned

Nepal Earthquake

On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Kathmandu and surrounding areas in Nepal. The earthquake, aftershocks, and subsequent landslides contributed to the deaths of over 8,600 people, with over 21,800 injured, and many unaccounted for. Evacuations were difficult due to constant power outages, widespread road damage, and flight delays and cancellations. Furthermore, the Nepalese government did not have a coordinated evacuation strategy for foreign nationals.

The Nepalese government, OSAC constituents, and independent travelers could have benefited from improved natural-disaster contingency plans. As OSAC constituents – many from U.S. academic institutions – rushed to evacuate their students and personnel, a lack of telecommunications capabilities hindered timely roll-calls and evacuation strategies. In countries prone to natural disasters and where the public infrastructure is underdeveloped, OSAC constituents should consider having satellite phones readily available to travelers in the event that the Internet and telephone lines become inoperable. OSAC constituents may also consider purchasing emergency evacuation insurance to evacuate personnel.