Amanda Robbins serves as Zemcar’s Trust Advisor. She has over ten years experience working in risk management in both the public and private sector, including as a policy advisor for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Emergency planning happens every day, in all of our lives. Yes, there are significant differences in the assets we personally strive to protect versus, say, the Department of Defense, and significant differences in the way we counter risks to those assets. But quite honestly, the way we think through it is very similar.
Let’s start with the idea that whether we are talking about thwarting a threat at a K-12 school, securing Fort Bragg, or protecting a Fortune 500 company from a cyber threat, planning and preparedness can be the difference between saving lives and protecting assets and suffering a complete catastrophe. Resilience is something we talk about a lot in the security/emergency management world — meaning, the ability to bounce back, to rebuild, to overcome. Without adequate planning and preparedness efforts, resilience is a near improbability. And this same concept can be applied to our everyday lives as well.
I am not suggesting that preparing for and combating kiddo #2’s or inevitable bout of the flu is the same as some very complex scenarios, like securing a U.S. military base, but we can break down the risk assessment process, and subsequent emergency planning, in much the same way.
Think about it this way — you plan for identified risks/protecting assets in your own life such as illness (flus, colds, broken bones, hopefully nothing worse); car and home repairs; education costs (yes, this could be a ‘risk’ considering the cost of college these days!); career changes; retirement; among others. To combat, or mitigate, these risks you plan for their eventuality in a smart and meaningful way, often based on their probability and the resources you have available to provide a solution. We start with these same concepts in the security/emergency management world.
In emergency planning in any scenario we identify the assets; identify potential risks to those assets (usually based on empirical data); determine the probability of that risk occurring; and calculate the potential impact and consequence. We also have to consider the countermeasures we already have in place to prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from a potential incident; these can lessen the probability and/or impact.
With all these factors laid out, we can determine how to most effectively and efficiently plan.
An example that might be relatable: Maybe one of your biggest assets is your personal retirement funds because you have decided that the time is nearing and you really want to be able to maintain a certain lifestyle (including paying your mortgage!). You might want to start by considering the risks to those funds such as shifts in the market, volatility in your investments, or a lower contribution level than what is needed for the end goal. Do you know the probability of those risks impacting your funds? I am sure your financial planner can tell you. And I am sure they have also suggested ways to minimize those risks along the way. But is it good enough, are there other risks you missed? Knowing the end goal for your asset (the funds at a certain level, at a certain age), the potential risks, and the countermeasures already in place, you can determine any other gaps and make a plan to prevent or lessen the risk. Seems pretty simple, and I bet most of you are already doing this.
Security/emergency management professionals go through basically the same process. It can certainly get more complicated, depending on the asset and the risks, but that is the general approach.
And you shouldn’t be afraid of applying it to all the assets in you and your family’s life. Give it a try. I bet you come up with some risks and ways to counter those risks that you have not thought of before. This exercise could save you time and/or money and possibly even prevent a serious incident.