Active Shooter Response Training; The State of Readiness in the Private Sector – This Week in Business Continuity

This past April and again last month, the Association of Contingency Planners webinar series hosted by Continuity Housing featured detailed, hour-long webinars on how to respond in an active shooter situation; hit those links to watch the recording of either or both.  Frankly we’d planned on HPD-active-shooterleaving the topic alone for a while but Thursday’s mass shooting in Chattanooga serves as another tragic reminder that the possibility of encountering a similar situation continues to be very real for all of us.  Those videos are long but make time to watch them.  For a shorter look at what to do in an active shooter situation, the Houston Police Department produced a 6-minute video a few years ago that you should watch and share with anyone you care about.


We now have six more ACP webinars scheduled through the fall but it’s not too late to register for the next one which is tomorrow, July 22nd at 11: 30 Eastern / 10:30 Central.  It’s called “Case Studies: Community Efforts to Enhance Workplace Preparedness for Bioterrorism” by Harlan Dolgin and you can register here. In September, Harlan will present on the topic of general preparedness for a flu pandemic and we’ll share the link to register for that one as soon as it’s scheduled.

The next Continuity Housing webinar is “The State of Readiness in the Private Sector – A Train Wreck in 2015 . . . What That Means to You” by Bo Mitchell.  It’s on Wednesday, August 12th at 11:30 Eastern / 10:30 Central and you can find out more and register here.

Always register even if you can’t attend the live presentation so that you automatically receive the link to the recording.


I mentioned a while back that I’d had a long talk with Bo about proper emergency preparedness ranging on topics both philosophic and practical.  Rounding out the discussion I asked who in each organization is responsible for insuring the organization is EAP (Emergency Action Plan) compliant and how they go about learning what it takes.  “The responsible party is the CEO. But he or she probably doesn’t know that. Think about that. Then know that, in most organizations, no one is assigned this responsibility. Or if they are, it is spread across silos. It could be HR. Or Security. Or Safety. Or Facilities. Every organization has a different answer.

“Know that one group that is not responsible for compliance: your landlord.  If you rent your space or any of your spaces in a multi-facility organization, know that your landlord’s planning – if they have any – is not substitutable under law for your plan. Nor does this make sense operationally speaking. It’s a fact that in almost all multi-tenant buildings, the landlord has no plan or it’s incompetent. Landlords never train. Often, they don’t even drill. Also, no law in any state or city or at the federal level permits your landlord’s plan to be your plan. The regulations always start, ‘The employer shall.’ Never ‘The landlord shall.’  All landlords do this badly. Anyone who says to you ‘Oh, that’s the landlord’s responsibility’ is – by definition and by law – negligent.”

If you’d like a copy of 911 Consulting’s “10 Commandments of Emergency Planning” and/or their “10 Commandments of Emergency Training,” email Bo at


We talked last week about prepping in advance – specifically, about pre-negotiating hotel contracts well in advance of a deployment.  Not only does it stave off price gouging and ugly contract terms but it makes for a far smoother deployment.  “But then it hit me,” says Continuity Housing’s principal, Michelle Lowther.  “It’s the people who THINK they have a plan that are in the most danger.”  So let’s back it up a bit.  Why is that the case, how do you know if you’re in that very boat and most importantly, how do you get out before said boat sinks?

For that, we turn back to Michelle.  “If an organization thinks they have it covered, they usually fall into one of two buckets.  Bucket One: small to mid-size businesses with only a handful of people to relocate who think they can do it online.  Bucket Two: large to mega-size businesses with high annual travel spend, strong hotel brand relationships at the global level and a travel management company that handles all their business travel.  The people in the first bucket are probably right.  They might be able to get online and eke out a few rooms here and there when they need them, provided things like room rate, pre-determined hotel location and pet acceptance are not priorities to them.  It’s the people in the second bucket who concern me.”  More about that next week, but in the meantime, if you think you might be in Bucket Two, here’s a hot tip.  “Check any hotel paperwork you have for the phrase ‘based on availability.’  I bet it’ll be in there somewhere,” says Michelle.

Wanna put this to the numbers?  Email me and we’ll send you a case study that we’ll explore a little more next week.  It’s a doozie.


Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or if you’d like a free 30-minute planning session, let us know.

The Constant Evolution of How We Manage Business Continuity – This Week in Business Continuity

I read an interesting post over the weekend that asks whether it’s time to rethink business continuity.  The headline and entire concept of the editorial are designed to generate traffic and there are probably a few too many acronyms but the writer has some great points.

  • The first line: “Business continuity professionals need to rethink some of the paradigms of the practice.”   More so than about any other industry, business continuity planning requires constant learning, constant reconsideration of standards and even a constant supply of a small amount of self-doubt.  I grew up in the shadow of Johnson Space Center and business continuity has always reminded me of those men and women with pocket protectors and horn-rimmed glasses.  If you don’t lose a little sleep at least every once in a while, you might not be doing it right.
  • “This is not a once and done process as many in the business continuity sphere seem to think (and practice).” I recently heard from a long-time colleague whose fairly sizable company has decided to overhaul their entire BC response schedule.  A little drastic perhaps but at least they’ll have the old plan to compare it to after the new plan is completed, and all of it will be a great learning experience.
  • “Difficulties arise when costs and benefits are not well defined and when intuition substitutes for analysis in the decision making process.” Truer words. This reminds me of a long series of post-Ike “first names only” (to encourage honesty and real learning) meetings I was involved in with Port of Houston and southeast Texas petroplex management staff about how each handled the ramp-up to the storm, its impact and the aftermath. My favorite quote from all 180+ of them: “We had a great plan but that plan went to hell the moment the eye wall hit the Seawall.”

For somebody like me, it’s a bit of a thick read but there’s lots of good stuff in there about what not to trust and he even includes this thought, “If we change our thought processes from chasing symptoms and ignoring consequences to recognizing the limitations of decision making under uncertainty we may find that the decisions we are making have more upside than downside.”  Good stuff.


We’ve scheduled our next Continuity Housing webinar for Wednesday, August 12th at 11:30 Eastern / 10:30 Central and, as always, this will be a valuable use of your time.  Entitled “The State of Readiness in the Private Sector – A Train Wreck in 2015 . . . What That Means to You,” you can get the details and register here.

not-supposedThe presenter – someone who may be familiar to a lot of you by now – is Bo Mitchell, an expert in the creation and training of emergency action and business continuity plans and an extremely popular presenter, both live and online.  Bo served as the Police Commissioner of Wilton, CT for 16 years. He retired in February 2001 to found 911 Consulting which creates emergency, disaster recovery, business continuity, crisis communications and pandemic plans, plus training and exercises for major corporations like GE HQ, Hyatt HQ, MasterCard HQ, four colleges and universities and 25 secondary schools. He serves clients headquartered from Boston to L.A. working in their facilities from London to San Francisco. Bo has earned 20 certifications in homeland security, EM, DR, BC, safety and security. He also serves as an expert in landmark court cases nationally.

I asked him the other day how he got into the business of preparing people to survive and thrive after they get hit with the worst.  His answer was blunt.  Bo is always blunt, a tremendous asset in this business.  His answer: “When I was police commissioner and there was an emergency at a workplace, the top person would always lament, ‘This was not supposed to happen to me.’ I always reacted to that privately as, ‘Duh, why were you thinking like this?  We see this every day.  You have to prepare your employees for the emergency then get back to work.’ So when I retired, I determined that most businesses, campuses and healthcare facilities were not prepared and have never trained their employees. There was a mission and a market for me. The rest is history.”

I’ll share more about Bo and what he teaches over the next several weeks.  Hopefully we’ll see you on August 12th.


The next Association of Continuity Planners webinar is at 11:30 Eastern / 10:30 Central on Wednesday, July 22nd and is called “Case Studies: Community Efforts to Enhance Workplace Preparedness for Bioterrorism,” a follow-up by Bio-Defense Network’s Harlan Dolgin to a popular session held in February when we addressed “Protecting your Workforce During a Public Health Emergency Through a Partnership with Local Public Health. (You can view the recording of that session here.)  Find out more about the topic and register for the July 22nd webinar here.


Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or if you’d like a free 30-minute planning session, let us know.

2015 Starts With 2 New ACP Webinars: Bio-Terror Prep for Business, ISO/Technical Committee 292

The Association of Contingency Planners Webinar Series has been very successful and is now entering its fifth year.  Since the series began in 2011, thousands of business continuity planning professionals have taken advantage of the opportunity to learn about a large range of continuity topics from many of the best BCP experts in the country.  (BTW, kudos to the ACP on their sharp new website.)  Continuing our promise to provide valuable content that’s always worthy of your time, the series is kicking off the new year with two very solid webinars:

  • Recent Developments: ISO/Technical Committee 292, Security
  • Bioterrorism Preparedness for Businesses: How to Stay Operational, Even During an Anthrax Attack.

As always, ACP Webinar Series presentations are sponsored by Continuity Housing.  They’re always free and most run between 35 and 50 minutes with additional Q&A.  Need more reasons to attend?

  • Again, they’re free.
  • They’re also 98% free of any advertising. The ACP webinars have never been and never will be sales pitches.  Which makes the time you spend attending the webinars that much more valuable.
  • Along those lines, you won’t get a bunch of follow-up emails asking you to join the ACP or soliciting your business otherwise. You’ll get a single short follow-up email from me that only includes the link to the recording, a copy of the slide deck and, if available by the time that email goes out, a description and link to the next scheduled
  • You don’t have to belong to the ACP to attend. You should join the Association anyway, but you don’t have to be a member to attend.
  • Never, ever, ever will the Association sell or otherwise share your email address.
  • We carefully select the webinar topics for relevance and timeliness as well as genuine professional and/or personal utilization and applicability.   We have meetings about this stuff.  It’s almost always information you want to know and very often it’s content you need to know.  The first two webinars this year are great examples of that.
  • We also carefully vet the presenters to make sure that they’re not only knowledgeable on their respective topics but also experienced (and hopefully at least slightly entertaining) presenters.
  • We practice each and every webinar before the attended presentation in order to help ensure that each minute of the presentation is as educational as possible.
  • You can invite anyone you’d like. Just forward the registration link(s) to them.
  • Can’t attend on the scheduled dates? That’s never a problem.  Register for them anyway and we’ll automatically send you a link to the recorded version of the webinar on Continuity Housing’s YouTube channel, usually within a day after the scheduled presentation.  You can watch at your leisure, share the recordings with colleagues and go back any time you’d like for a refresher or to finish watching if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing.
  • Most importantly, attending these webinars increases your value as a business continuity professional to your organization. And your boss should know each time you choose to attend.  Job security is awesome.

The first webinar of 2015 – Recent Developments: ISO/Technical Committee 292, Security – will take place from noon to 1:00 CST on Thursday, January 29thRegister here.  About this one:

This webinar will familiarize the attendees with the main points and value of emerging standards, ISO 22317 Business Impact Analysis and ISO 22318 Supply Chain Continuity, as well as ISO’s transition in January 2015 from ISO/Technical Committee 223, Societal Security, to ISO/Technical Committee 292, Security, and the projected next steps.

The presenters will be George Huff with the ACP, Duncan Ford with Corpress, LLP and Brian Zawada with Avalution Consulting.  George is an ACP Board Director, member of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO/TC 223 and a member of Project Team 4 for ISO 22317 Business Impact Analysis. Duncan is ISO/TC 223’s Project Team 5 Leader for ISO 22318 Supply Chain Continuity. Brian chairs the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO/TC 223 Societal Security and is Project Team 4 Leader for ISO 22317 Business Impact Analysis.

The second webinar is Bioterrorism Preparedness for Businesses: How to Stay Operational, Even During an Anthrax Attack and it’s scheduled for Wednesday, February 4th from 10:30 to 11:30 Central.  Register here.  More:

Since 1999 the nation has stockpiled lifesaving medications to be quickly distributed to local health departments in the event of a bioterrorism disaster. In the last few years, there has been a concentrated effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to encourage local public health departments to partner with large employers in the community to distribute that medication directly to their employees and their families during a bioterrorism event such as a regional Anthrax attack.

Many employers across the country are already part of this program, which is called a Closed Point of Dispensing Network, or Closed POD Network, but many are not even aware of the program’s existence. This presentation will explain the benefits of the program and show both public and private employers how they can better protect their workers and remain operational in the wake of a bio-terrorism attack.

The CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is comprised of antibiotics, masks, gloves and other medicine. These supplies will be utilized by the government in the event of an emergency, with appropriate medications delivered to public health departments in the affected region. The health department’s responsibility is to dispense these lifesaving medications to the entire community within 48 hours of a disaster declaration.

Becoming a Closed POD directly benefits an employer by assuring its workers are protected against a lethal biological agent and also helps achieve a company’s business continuity goals by encouraging workers to report for duty and keep the company operating.

This presentation will fully describe the entire SNS program, from the national to the local level, and show attendees how they can participate in this valuable preparedness initiative in their communities.  The presenter is Harlan Dolgin, co-owner of Bio-Defense Network.

Sign on up.  And submit any questions you have about either topic so we can answer them during Q&A.  Finally, send us your suggestions for future webinar topics.  This process thrives on your input and where else can you get great information from a group of the country’s best BCP professionals for free?  And no, we will not send you a puppy if we select your topic.  But free, genuinely valuable knowledge is better.  Although I admit, puppies are nice.

Posted by Fred Rogers on 07 January 2015.


Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or if you’d like a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.