Thursday, June 27, 2013



Knowing who is present and accounted for

Granted, the drop hedcq is bad grammar, but it works for the military and it could – most likely would – work for any organization.

The military is very big on roll calls and knowing who is present and who is absent – in the latter case, also why the person is absent.

The military roll call is done in reverse pyramid fashion.

On the bottom is the squad. This can be maybe 4 to 10 people.

Next is the platoon. A platoon is composed of several squads.

Moving on up there are companies, each having several platoons; then – well, the graphic shows it all.

At the basic, squad level, the squad leader is supposed to personally know where each of the squad’s personnel are at any given time.

In a non-military environment, start with a buddy system of 4 to 10 people who work in physically close proximity (think Squad Level). People who would know if Jack was taking a bathroom break or Jane had to stay home with a sick child – or maybe Jack was staying home and Jane was in the bathroom. Risk management cannot be sexist or make assumptions, and neither should the folks who make up the buddy group.

Picture the scenario: An evacuation alarm sounds and everyone is supposed to leave the building, to assemble in specific protected-from-flying debris areas other than in the parking lot (so emergency vehicles can access the building).

Someone from the buddy group reports to the Functional Unit Manager (Platoon Leader Level). When all the Functional Unit buddy groups have reported, the Functional Unit Manager reports on the unit’s personnel to the next higher level manager (Company Level ).

Eventually the reporting will go up to the highest organizational level and that person will meet with emergency responders when they arrive on the scene. This person needs to provide as much information about the event and in-danger personnel as possible.

The accounting of personnel is not just an exercise to see if someone is hiding under a desk (I’ve seen this); it’s primary purpose is to let emergency personnel know if they need to search the building for trapped or injured people or can they go ahead and fight the fire or close a gas leak or handle whatever else caused the evacuation.

Buddy groups should be supplemented with floor or area wardens who check their assigned areas to assure that the areas are indeed free of personnel – remember the guy hiding under his desk? The wardens must have management’s full support and be able to “take names.” (“Taking names” demands that there policies and procedures in place to penalize those who refuse to follow warden instructions, and these P&Ps must apply to everyone equally.)

The same basic reporting scheme applies to shelter-in-place exercises.


Peg board option

For organizations that deal with things that might “go boom in the night” such as Class A explosives, rather than depend solely on “present and accounted for” there is a need to know the location of anyone missing.

One way to know if someone remains in a blast zone is to use a peg board.

Not very sophisticated, but very effective.

As personnel enter a danger zone they hang up an ID tag on the peg board.

The board can be seen from outside of the building via a blast-proof window.

If an explosion occurs, everyone who can evacuate the facility does so and meets at designated locations. The buddy system applies here as it did above.

Rescuers compare the people who escaped the facility with the ID cards on the peg board. If there are more cards than identified people in the assembly area(s), the rescuers must enter a high risk area to search for any remaining victims.

The peg board scheme was used by a company that developed automotive air bags.

Other options can be implemented providing that whatever is used can withstand the threat should it occur. What may be appropriate for an area where high explosives are located might not be appropriate where sudden flooding could happen. Common sense must prevail.

If I wrote it, you may quote it.

Comments to JohnGlennMBCI at gmail dot com

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