Bulletin / Brussels attack –...

Brussels attack – same old?

Author: Charlie Maclean-Bristol

This week Charlie talks about the Brussels Attack and thoughts on similar incidents.

This week’s bulletin has to be on the Brussels attack which to date has left at least 31 people killed, and 300 injured. In the news at the moment, further information is coming out about the attacks and the number of raids and arrests by the authorities is intensifying. 

As we know there have been a number of attacks across Europe, and I sometimes find it hard to say something new about them. I sometimes wonder, as terrorist attacks both large and small happen reasonably regularly, that we have got used to them. Of course, those who have lost loved ones or horribly injured in an event will be very unique, and will remain with them forever. For the rest of us not immediately affected, will terrorist attacks just become part of the risk of life? In the same way the people of London and other cities in the blitz got used to the fact that most nights German bombers would fly over and try and kill them. Life in the cities went on as they had no choice but to keep going, I am not sure whether we have any choice either?

From these incidents, there are a few thoughts I would share:

  1. As these attacks seem to be happening in Europe reasonably often, should we start briefing staff on how to react if they are caught up in an attack or an explosion? I personally, until now, thought this would just alarm staff, especially as the risk is low but perhaps it is time we should do so. The UK have some good online training and guidance under the banner run-hide–tell.
  2. If we are sending staff to work outside our home country, we often get them booked in the best hotel in town which is usually the same hotel as all other foreigners stay in. We have seen a number of attacks on hotels; such as the mass shooting at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali in 2015, or the attacks on the Tunisia and Ivory Coast resorts where terrorists want to target locations where lots of foreigners are located. Should we consider sending our staff to lower profile hotels? 
  3. It is not our job to criticise the Belgian security forces, but I have heard a number of commentators say that they have been poorly resourced; there are a large number of different security forces and police who don’t necessary work well together and share information. In business continuity we know that our plans don’t work well if they are written in silos and they are not coordinated with central functions such as IT, human resources and faculty’s management. Perhaps this attack is a reminder to review our plans and check that they are coordinated with all interested parties both internal and external.
  4. One last thing I picked up from this attack, it seemed to take the Belgian authorities some time to confirm the number of dead, and to confirm to the families that their loved ones have been killed. This has lead to some families complaining about this on the news. We need to build into our plans that victim identification may take some time and staff will have to be supported while they are waiting for confirmation, and then beyond.

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