Quality Management 2.0 Blog

Proactive Threat Assessment and Risk Mitigation

Posted by Mary McAtee on Nov 19, 2014 @ 12:46 PM

Contingency Planning

Proactive Threat Assessment and Risk Mitigation

Maybe it is because I am a New Yorker and lived through both 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy but I have an ingrained set of memories related to both events. I remember the scramble to pluck people off of the shoreline after the Towers had fallen. Thousands of people were crammed between the Hudson River and safety. Everything that floated and could get close to shore became a rescue vessel. It was the most massive water evacuation since Dunkirk. Among the responding vessels were ferries, tugs, recreational crafts, Police and Fire Boats not to mention everything that the USCG could deploy for the effort. With the exception of the professional rescue vessels, all the responders were pretty much making it up as they went along, yet they still managed to save thousands. What emerged from the experience was the realization that there needed to be coordinated rescue plans and training for urban water disasters. Less than a decade later that training and contingency planning effort was put to good use. Within three minutes of Sully hitting the water in what became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” a very well-coordinated flotilla of ferries and working vessels were off-loading survivors. During Superstorm Sandy, no one expected a storm surge that would flood the Midtown and Battery Tunnels all the way to their ceilings. The same inundation of floodwaters swamped the basements of hospitals and other critical infrastructure facilities. The unforeseen consequence of 30 feet of floodwater in the basements of major hospitals and emergency planning facilities was the total submerging and destruction of emergency power generation equipment. Every critical building had redundant power generating equipment and thousands of gallons of fuel all of which was located in basements and sub-basements and were totally rendered useless and in many cases added fuel spills to compound the problem. Millions have been spent to relocate generators and fuel supplies to roofs and underground tank systems. These are just two cautionary tales about the failure to identify and mitigate risk.

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Topics: Risk Assessment & Analysis, risk mitigation

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