Keeping Perspective on Terror Risk is Important, Yet Preparation is Prudent
The impact of recent terrorist acts throughout the world comes into our living rooms and through our Internet-connected devices with shocking immediacy. The nature of such news can create a great deal of fear and anxiety, but it’s important to keep those emotional responses in perspective. The danger that any particular person or their family will become a terror victim is relatively small compared to the everyday risks of commuting, health and wellness concerns, or household hazards. Yet on a community-wide scale, terrorism risk is on a level that merits careful consideration and preparation.
Today, schools, hospitals and municipalities may be at a greater risk for terrorism. As organized terror groups and “lone wolf” operators adapt to increased security measures implemented on a federal and state level and in larger cities, risks are increased for more vulnerable targets. There has been a definite trend toward the use of less sophisticated methods that are more difficult to prevent, including using vehicles as weapons as seen in the London incident over the past weekend.
The recent Manchester concert bombing in May illustrates that children may be purposely targeted, whether out of a perverse justification for retaliation or to provoke greater fear. Schools should consider this in assessing their vulnerabilities and evaluating their prevention and preparation approach. The goal should not be to unnecessarily alarm children and their parents, but rather to enhance security and reduce the risk of a serious incident.
Communities will want to look at ways that terrorists may try to maximize the impact of their attacks by going after critical infrastructure like hospitals and utilities. Damaging those vital resources can limit a community’s ability to effectively respond to incidents in the immediate aftermath. Disruption of medical facilities, water, electrical or communications infrastructure can seriously complicate rescue and recovery, or impede law enforcement efforts to apprehend attackers.
Through training and simulation drills involving the appropriate personnel, organizations can most effectively refine their planning and test their procedures before they are confronted with an actual incident. In addition, plans and protocols should be reevaluated periodically against evolving conditions and ensure new employees are updated.
We encourage communities, big and small, to take the threat of terrorism seriously and make it part of risk assessment and strategic disaster planning. None of us can afford to be complacent enough to think “it can’t happen here.” Neither can we become so paralyzed by fear that we refuse to talk about it. Rational discussion and prudent readiness are best practices for defending ourselves and our communities against terrorism.
About Eric Preston
Eric Preston is Vice President, Loss Control Services at Keenan. He leads a statewide team of specialists assisting clients with services to reduce hazards, and improve property & casualty loss experience.