23rd February 2018

Dealing with disaster and emergency

It’s no surprise to anyone that the world has seen an increase of natural disasters and security threats – including in popular business destinations and major airports.

While it is unlikely that you or your travellers will be caught up in an emergency situation as severe as this – truth told, they’re more likely to experience bad weather and plane strikes – it is still something to consider when putting travel plans into place.

As such, organisations are working to produce robust plans for ensuring – and communicating – the safety of their employees in disaster situations. However, developing such robust emergency procedures is not always easy. It’s no longer enough to rely on insurance policies that might only cover financial indemnifications rather than physical responses. It’s not always easy to work out what to do where a traveller is in an emergency situation in a non-English speaking country, or how to react in the event of an emergency situation.

Addison Lee Group’s approach

Local knowledge is key. Not just to provide an excellent service, but when it comes to disaster and emergency situations. In high-risk locations where dangers of attack and kidnap are high, companies will often need to rely on partners they have in place on the ground. Mike Fogarty, President, Tristar Worldwide (part of the Addison Lee Group), says: “You need to think about things the traveller won’t know to worry about. From our perspective, we have particular ways of working in high risk areas such as never displaying the traveller’s full name on our pickup cards and always keeping the doors locked once the traveller is in the car. We even ensure that the cars we use are of a quality that won’t attract too much attention on the road, because we don’t want people travelling with us to be a target. In some instances the driver and passenger may have a password they can identify each other with.”

In areas that lack public emergency infrastructure, employers need to have extra liability covering a wide range of situations. One of the weaknesses Ted Jones, CEO, Northcott Global Solutions, sees is the narrow range of scenarios many companies are prepared for: “In many cases, when people think in terms of emergency assistance they are thinking very specifically about medical assistance and repatriation by air.” This approach leaves gaps. For example, if local airspace is closed, then employers have no plan for getting their employees out safely. Thinking more widely about the scenarios that might occur – and in particular identifying the local and regional assets that can be drawn upon – is key.

By taking a proactive and positive approach, organisations can prepare for emergency situations – even if they cannot be predicted!

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