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AFIMAC’s Peter Martin quoted by Associated Press related to Workplace Emergency Plans, as featured on ABC NEWS

December 16th, 2015 Comments off

Workplace Balance

The terror attack at a social services facility in California has become a sobering reminder to companies of how vulnerable workplaces can be when employees are confronted with active shooters.

Since a gun-wielding husband-and-wife team killed 14 and wounded 21 others this month in San Bernardino, California, employers across the country have been reassessing their emergency plans to ensure they are prepared to deal with workplace violence.

More companies have been calling security and human resources experts to get information on how to prepare for an attack. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said big companies have asked for permission to use its nine-minute video, “Surviving an Active Shooter,” which portrays shootings in an office, a shopping mall and a school.

And “Run. Hide. Fight.,” a six-minute video created by Houston officials on what to do when someone opens fire in the office, has been viewed tens of thousands of times daily since the rampage, the most views since its release around the time of the mass shooting in a Coloradomovie theater in 2012. Jackie Miller, the city of Houston’s community preparedness programs manager, said one company asked for 6,000 wallet-sized cards with the mantra from the video, encouraging workers to hide if they can’t run, and fight if they can’t hide.

The company inquiries come as workplace violence in the U.S. has made international headlines. The most recent official statistics are two years old and show the rate of workplace violence to be steady for the previous two decades. Still, deaths resulting from workplace violence were the second leading cause of job fatalities in the U.S. after transportation incidents in 2013, the latest data available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And studies show that most companies are ill-equipped to deal with workplace violence. A government survey in 2005 found that 80 percent of companies that experienced a violent incident didn’t subsequently change workplace violence policies or programs. The survey did not spell out what a policy or program would include.

In practice, companies’ response plans range from highly detailed to nonexistent, security experts say. Brent O’Bryan, vice president of AlliedBarton Security Services, said when he gives seminars on workplace violence awareness across the country, about half the attendees say their companies have no policy. “I am not confident that most employers are prepared,” he says.

Part of the problem is that most companies don’t know how to create a workplace violence plan, says Peter Martin, CEO of AFIMAC Global, a security consulting company based in Miami.

Also, there’s a belief by some that workplace violence won’t happen in their office: Indeed, smaller companies may not be particularly concerned about workplace violence following shootings, says Jay Starkman, CEO of Engage PEO, a human resources provider based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“A lot of employers, especially small and medium-sized businesses, believe even in the wake of all the things you read about: ‘It can’t happen here, not in my company, not with the people I know,'” Starkman says.

Some companies that are aware of the potential for workplace violence are preparing in the event of an active shooting. Choice Hotels, for instance, designates employees who are able to block access to elevators and direct other staffers to evacuation routes. Its response plans are continually evolving, but no changes have been made since the San Bernardino shootings, says Anne Hendrick, vice president of human resources for the hotel company.

Some companies also include in their plans an emphasis on preventing violence before it starts. Beer and wine distributor Monarch Beverage, which has about 650 employees at its Indianapolis headquarters, has a doctor and nurse practitioner onsite who are able to handle mental health issues. Supervisors also are trained to recognize changes in workers’ behavior or to alert security if they anticipate trouble from a negative job review.

“Our people are hyper-vigilant to make sure they involve our security team if they have any concerns whatsoever,” says Natalie Roberts, senior vice president with the Indianapolis company, which also has an emergency plan.

But even when companies prepare for workplace violence, the end result can be tragic. Some of the San Bernardino shooting survivors followed workplace violence training they were given about a year before the killings.

Employees at the San Bernardino County Environmental Health Services division had gotten “active shooter” training in the same conference room where the shootings took place. Two survivors said colleagues reacted by trying to do as they were trained — dropping under the tables and staying quiet to avoid attracting attention.

Rob Shuster, AFIMAC VP on WTAP NEWS – Active Shooter Critical Moments

December 14th, 2015 Comments off

WTAP NEWS – Active Shooter Critical Moments

 

Rob Shuster of AFIMAC discusses active shooter incidents with WTAP NEWS.

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Shootings in businesses and public offices are nothing new.

But in the past, they’ve been motivated by people with largely personal issues.

Because of that, companies have surfaced to help employees take a pro–‐active stance to deal with them.

“People can, out of panic and out of fear, do things you wouldn’t expect them to do,” says Ron Shuster, Vice–‐President for training, AFIMAC “They’ll freeze; they’ll take things out with them, some of them will understand that priority one is to evacuate; some of them will not. Some of them will do things that will make things more difficult for the responding police officers,  and they have to be schooled not to do those things.”

AFIMAC provides active shooter training for businesses and similar organizations. Another company, Dark Angel Medical, helps responders prepare for those incidents.

But one of its officials says fighting back is one way not to deal with a mass gunman.

“Police are going to be coming, and I’m not going to be running out of the store with my gun out, because they’ll think I’m the bad guy,” says Dark Angel co–‐founder Lynn Davis. “I’m going to be trying to move away from the dangerous situation, and my main mission is to protect my husband and my child.”

Both companies say due to events of the past month, active shooter training may be evolving.

“I suspect that will happen, given Paris,” Shuster says. “I think it’s ridiculous to assume that won’t happen here. But it did happen in Paris.” AFIMAC was started in the 1980s by former Washington County commissioner James Vuksic.

Dark Angel plans a training exercise next June in Reno, Ohio, just outside Marietta.

Article in Latin Trade: ‘Security is 90 Percent Prevention’ by Adrian Vergel

December 8th, 2015 Comments off

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Security is 90 Percent Prevention

December 2, 2015

By: Adrian Vergel

According to global forecasters, demand for travel risk management services in Latin America is on the rise. It’s difficult to gauge from the data, however, whether traveling abroad has become more or less hazardous. In some reports, much of South America has become safer for travelers. Others note that recovery in Latin America will be a key factor for growth in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, reflecting a strong demand for travel.baggage-hall-775540_960_720 (1)

Can these upbeat predictions be trusted? In many Latin American countries, freedom of the press is rare, and governments control what statistics are released and in what manner, which significantly affects the perception of violence. With little confidence in the judicial process, and unchecked corruption, the majority of victims do not report crimes, fearing retaliation by criminals who may bribe or make payments to judges or police to secure release or reduced prison sentences.

Internal or contract security service providers are critical to the protection of business personnel through security training and awareness. Most people think of security as bodyguards and martial arts experts who know how to shoot a gun. That’s all true and very important. But security professionals never want to get to the point where they have to show their skills.

One such provider, AFIMAC, believes that 90 percent of mitigating the risk of international travel is prevention, five percent is reaction, and five percent is bad luck—being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Clearly, the majority of the responsibility of any security travel program must be prevention, knowing the profile of corporate travelers, their medical conditions, and detailed itinerary, including hotel and business meeting locations.

The way victims react can affect the outcome of even seemingly mundane car accidents. At a minimum, corporate travelers should be given a personal security awareness or travel security briefing to elevate their security consciousness when abroad.

The contents of such briefings should give the traveler a good overview of his or her destination and itinerary as well as tips on how to keep a low profile while in the locale. The purpose of the briefing should focus on how to determine the risks, increases personal awareness, and reduce the chances of being selected as a target.

The goal in all cases is prevention—having a personal plan for acting in a way that prevents an attack from happening. Prevention means having a plan for safeguarding valuables, selecting streets safe for travel, walking with confidence and awareness of persons who might be following, knowing where to park and being conscious of persons lingering near the car, and avoiding the use of ATMs. The goal is to teach the corporate traveler how to detect and deter becoming a criminal target.

One way to bring home these concepts is to step into the shoes of the criminal. As a rule, criminals do not want to be exposed; they always select a victim before an attack, opting for the easiest victim that offers the greatest reward with the least amount of risk. They can take time to select their targets, identify a specific victim, evaluate the individual looking for an opportunity to attack, plan the attack by looking for times, places, and methods where the person is vulnerable, and finally springing into action. At this point, the victim no longer has the possibility of prevention. If the target is something of sentimental value, the traveling employee may hesitate when confronted with a .38 revolver, leading the perpetrator to feel challenged or not in control—then shots are fired. The best advice? Employees should not take anything into a country that they are not willing to lose.

To counter kidnappings, for example, the latest GPS solutions are often used in company vehicles. But if the victim is separated from the vehicle, the positioning information is useless. A more effective solution is smartphone GPS technology, such as AFIMAC’s MyTrac, which constantly relays GPS location information to an online platform. In this way, an organization can track travelers as they board their flight, check in at a local hotel, and proceed from meeting to meeting. In a typical kidnapping, the criminals often make their first call from the victim’s phone, hoping the family will pick up so they can make demands. With MyTrac, the phone’s GPS can pinpoint the exact location of that call. Coupled with Crisis Assistance Plus, a travel assistance membership, immediate help can be provided to a distressed employee.

Traveling employees can internalize the concept of prevention in two ways: the wrong way—assume that nothing is going to happen and allow it to occur; or the right way—act in a manner that prevents an attack from happening in the first place. The prevention part of security may seem like minutia, but it is vital when protecting corporate employees traveling for business in Latin America.

Adrian Vergel is chief operations officer for AFIMAC’s Latin American region. His special expertise includes knowledge of North and South America, which he acquired while directing and managing security operations for multi-national Fortune 500 corporations throughout the region. He is an accomplished instructor in counter-surveillance, evasive/defense driving techniques, and executive protection operations. A former U.S. Marine, he served on the Presidential Helicopter Squadron where he worked closely with the U.S. Secret Service regarding all matters of security. His military training and experience includes personnel management, training skills, and a broad security background. Vergel is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) and ASIS International. He may be reached at avergel@afimacglobal.com.

AFIMAC Global is a leader in the provision of comprehensive corporate security and contingency planning services throughout the world, with a focus on North and South America. Its diverse capabilities include executive protection, labor dispute planning & response, cargo security & escorts, disaster & emergency response, corporate investigations, workplace violence assessment & response. With a distinguished management team and highly skilled personnel, AFIMAC Global is well known for its high quality service delivery and immediate responsiveness.

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