Practicing Disaster

by francine Hardaway on April 10, 2008

In case you think safety is not a big issue globally, let me tell you about ESS‘ user EXPO2008, which starts on Sunday. ESS is a client of mine that develops and sells Environmental, Health and Safety software for big companies that are trying to manage operational risk on behalf of their stakeholders. Although software company user conferences are usually focussed on what’s working and not working with the product, and how different customers make use of software, ESS’s EXPO is different.

Part of managing operational risk includes knowing how to avert and respond to crises. So at this user conference. there will be not one, but three simulated crises –real-time drills in which local government representatives and ESS customers will participate. Guests at the conference will attend the drills.

The first crisis is called “Green Scorpion” — a simulated attack on a chemical handling facility by a group of terrorists.

There will be a second exercise occurring in real-time called “Sand Dollar.” Sand Dollar is the blowing up of an Amtrak Train.

Still a third exercise, a Pandemic, will also be conducted.. All three of these simultaneous exercises are being managed by ESS Crisis software at the Conference.

The “exercise” has captured “significant” attention at governmental agencies because it is perhaps the first public/private conference addressing crisis managment AND demonstrating with the exercise what it is all about. ESS may very well be setting the national standard here for exercises.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack Kessler April 12, 2008 at 9:27 am

Pandemic scenarios seem more real to me after a short bicycle ride in the hills. I rode through Sunset View Cemetery here in El Cerrito. In the old section there are graves from the early Twentieth Century to the 1920’s. About a third of the headstones have a year of death of 1918 – the year of the influenza pandemic. The First World War, 1914-1918, (until there was a Second World War known as the Great War), was the worst war in human history, the worst catastrophe ever to befall humanity. More people died in it than had died in any war before it. Yet the influenza pandemic of 1918 killed more people than the war did.

I had not previously understood what seemed such an over-reaction to bird flu. Bird flu is closely related to the influenza strain of 1918. There is reason to be concerned. With modern transportation and larger more crowded populations, particularly in the poor countries, a pandemic today could spread faster and kill more people than in 1918.

Just as the influenza of 1918 overshadowed the war and revolutions of those years, a pandemic would make the issues of today seem insignificant.

francine hardaway April 12, 2008 at 10:14 am

Yes, and if you are involved in health care at all, as I am, you know that a pandemic is even more frightening than a chemical spill or an explosion, because it is much harder to contain. I’ve developed a huge respect for disaster planning since working with ESS.

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