Its 3 am and your phone rings. You answer the phone, dazed and trying to understand who is on the phone and what’s happening. Its someone advising you of an incident at your corporate headquarters. Here is the message:
“The Headquarters is on fire. The fire alarms are going off so it looks like a fire. We haven’t seen any employees anywhere. We are headed to the first floor Security Desk to see what the fire guys want us to do.”.
Based on that message you have no clue as to the extent, who is in charge, if employees have been evacuated, operational impacts, what processes have been impacted and how you can stay in contact with the team onsite. Your notification and escalation to management from this call can and will lead to chaos in determining what immediate strategic goals and tactical objectives need to be implemented.
Scene size-up is the ongoing observation and evaluation of factors that are used to develop strategic goals and tactical objectives. Now, lets try it again using the scene size up acronym “BELOW” or:
- B = Building and/or Business Unit
- E = Extent of the Situation
- L = Life Hazard
- O = Operational Impacts to the Business
- W = What business unit and processes have been impacted by the event?
“This is John, Coporate Security. We have a fire on the second floor of the Headquarters building. Smoke and flames have been observed by the Security Guards. Fire and police are on scene. We have confirmed that there are no employees in the building. The Call Center and Accounting functions are the business units impacted by the fire. I will serve as the Incident Commander for our company and will work in unified command with the local Fire Department. Command is established at the Security Desk on the first floor. The number is 555-5555.”
Now based on this call, you know who is the Incident Commander, the location and number of the Command Post, that employees are safe, the extent of the situation, the operational impacts and what business processes are impacted. You can now make an intelligent call to the Crisis Management Team with the specifics of the event that will lead to informed decisions on strategic goals and tactical objectives.
Scene size up is crucial to any type of event whether its man-made, technological or natural in nature. Whether your use “BELOW” or APIE (Assess, Plan, Implement or Evaluate), scene size up is crucial to “organized chaos” in an unplanned disruption.