Incident Management – What Next?

I may be criticized for crying wolf here, I would however strongly disagree; there are many wolves prowling around our country and their attack, when it comes, will be devastating!

Current intelligence strongly suggests that the type of terrorist attack in 2008 in Mumbai is likely to be repeated in this country.

This incident, (often referred to as November 26 or 26/11) consisted in more than 10 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India’s largest city, by Islamic terrorists who invaded from Pakistani seawaters. The attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation, began on 26 November 2008 and lasted until 29 November, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.

As recently as Tuesday 28 June 2011 armed men attacked the Hotel Inter-Continental in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, killing at least eight civilians and two policemen in a similar style of attack, the dye is cast!!.

According to the Security Service MI5 the current threat level from international terrorism for the UK is assessed as SEVERE. The threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism is set separately for Northern Ireland and Great Britain. In Northern Ireland it is SEVERE and in Great Britain SUBSTANTIAL.

SEVERE means that a terrorist attack is highly likely.

SUBSTANTIAL means that an attack is a strong possibility.

When the next terrorist incident occurs in this country it will be the military and emergency services that respond. The incident will not however take place in the middle of Salisbury Plain; it is likely to be in a city centre or other major population centre and be aimed at a high profile target. The work of the emergency services will be made distinctly harder by ill disciplined and panic stricken people. It will by contrast be significantly aided by organisations and their staff responding in a well trained manner, aware of and complying with the emergency response.

The military, emergency services and local government have been using the Gold, Silver, Bronze, Command and Control system to great effect for a number of years. Its strength is its simplicity!

Each level is defined by unique and distinctive roles. Each role holder has a clear understanding of their role, and crucially the roles of the other levels.

Gold level is in overall control of the organisation’s resources at the incident. They will not necessarily be on site; they will formulate the strategy for dealing with the incident.

The Silver level is the senior member of the organisation at the scene, in charge of all its resources. They will decide how to utilise these resources to achieve the strategic aims of the Gold level; they determine the tactics used.

A Bronze level directly controls the organisations resources at the incident. If an incident is widespread geographically, different individuals may assume responsibility for different areas.

This approach has been used as a cornerstone of our work in crisis management and business resilience in both public and private sectors where ISO 1800, 14000 & 9000 and British Standards such as BS25999 have been successfully attained for clients. For more information, the full case study can be seen at

Whether the crisis is founded in counter terrorist response, or natural disaster, a building related disruption or a commercial emergency we have found that the common element is the need to achieve an effective organisational response. This entails people, whether acting individually or in teams and it is essential that they are fully aware of their role and how that relates to the wider organisational objectives.

We have found that adopting this approach has acted as a good catalyst to stimulate team building; indeed I have experienced senior managers rethinking their management structures and style. They have found that greater awareness of the unique and distinctive contribution made by staff engenders in them a more cohesive understanding of the organisation’s key objectives.

The only concession likely to be required for implementation in the private sector is the replacement of terms such as ‘command and control’ with more culturally acceptable business terms such as crisis manager, leader, team etc.

Through 6 core products that we deliver  at we bring a wealth of this practical crisis management and a more interventionist style of incident management experience to bear in a wide range of day to day business environments. Our teams of trainers and facilitators are drawn from industry, the police, fire service and the military, which allows the rich mix of talent to tackle any subject with unparalleled levels of confidence and authority.

Whether it business continuity plan training, incident management or risk training or testing your business continuity plan, we can truly say we have been there, done it and done that!

We would be very interested to learn of your experiences in a crisis good or bad!

John Coyle

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