• United States



sarah d_scalet
Senior Editor

Emergency Workers Need BackupAt Home

Nov 29, 20054 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Every town or city that has any chance of being evacuated needs to consider a system that the military has used successfully for many years. Because everybody in the military may be deployed at any moment, the military has two mechanisms in place.

One of them is the Family Support Team. This team takes care of family groups left behind when an entire unit is sent to Iraq or wherever. Its usually the senior wives of the organization helped by the commander of the military base. They make sure that everyone is housed and fed and that people have contact with their loved ones overseas. Its very important to the morale of our deploying units that they know their families will be taken care of.

In a military setting, everyone is on a base or near a base. In a city, the families of police departments or fire departments may live anywhere. So what you would want on the Family Support Team side is perhaps to identify an assembly area where everyone would go in an emergency, so that you can do a head count and make sure everyone is safe.

The second part is the Family Care Plan. There are so many single parents in the military these days, and also situations where both the husband and wife are in the army. If youre told that in six hours youre going to be on an airplane going somewhere, how do you arrange for the safe care of children in those six hours? The answer is you cant. You have to do that in advance. The Family Care Plans are a vital part of this process. Maybe I have a legal document thats been drawn up that says my parents will take legal custody of my 10-year-old daughter. Maybe my 10-year-old daughter will move into the house next doorthey have four kids, so one more is not going to hurt.

If youre not critical to the operation at hand, you can leave with your family. If you are critical, your family has to fall under a Family Care Plan, and the Family Support Team needs to be there to ensure that the plan works. Those parents who are key people in keeping the citys emergency support systems functioning have got to know that their families are not at risk.

Maybe all it takes is a simple cell phone call: Hey, Dad, yeah, the Family Care Plan is activated, Grandma is going to be here in an hour, and were all good. The guy can go back to his job now with a smile on his face. Its taken care of. As opposed to: My God, Im afraid, when are you coming home, the water is rising. You know whats going to happen. The guy has got to go home and save his daughter.

Are police departments in this country ready for that? You know what? I think theyd better get ready for it, at least in areas where evacuation might happen. If a majority of your town is below the level of a flood plain, you have to think about it. If youre near an active volcano, you have to think about it. This is the price youve got to pay to keep the city running, so that your emergency staff does not feel the need to immediately take off. How many times do we have to see a New Orleans happen? Its kind of like the school bus has been hit in the intersection. Its time to put a light there.

Dennis Treece is director of corporate security at Massport, the agency that runs Bostons Logan Airport. He speaks here as an individual and not a Massport employee.