Major Incidents, News

New Federal Security Initiative Asks Businesses to Play Active Role in Community Safety

Issue 8 and Volume 41.

Following an attack like the recent mass shootings in Orlando, Fla., people who own nightclubs, restaurants and other places designed to be open, inviting and fun may ask EMS providers, “What can I do to protect my employees and customers?”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently launched the Hometown Security initiative to share tools and resources for small- and medium-size businesses and people who organize public gatherings. As recent events have shown, extremists may consider these places appealing and easily accessible (i.e., “soft”) targets.

To enhance the nation’s security during both steady state and times of heightened awareness, DHS provides recommendations about protective measures that can be implemented to protect facilities and venues. Free tools and resources are key because communities are the first line of defense in keeping the public safe and secure.

Four Simple Steps

Specifically, the DHS encourages businesses to connect, plan, train and report. Applying these four steps in advance of an incident or attack can help better prepare businesses and their employees to proactively think about the role they play in the safety and security of their communities.

EMS professionals are encouraged to download the “Tools and Resources to Help Businesses Plan, Prepare, and Protect from an Attack” fact sheet to share with people who want to take action. The four steps are simple:

1. Connect: Reach out and develop relationships in the community, including local law enforcement. Invite local law enforcement to tour your business. At the federal level, the FBI’s public-private partnership program, InfraGard, and the local DHS protective security advisor can also help. As everyone in EMS knows, things go better when the first meeting isn’t in the middle of a crisis.

2. Plan: Take the time now to plan on how to handle a security event should one occur. Learn from other events to inform your plans. Be aware of current threats related to your geographic region or impacting your business sector. Develop plans, including security, emergency response, emergency communications and business continuity plans, while considering the protection of your employees and customers. Develop evacuation and shelter-in-place plans, and ensure that multiple evacuation routes are clearly marked with appropriate signage and that rallying points are available. Engage local first responders (e.g., police, fire and EMS) in all of the planning efforts.

3. Train: Provide employees with training resources and exercise plans often. The best laid plans must be exercised in order to be effective. Train employees on identifying and reporting suspicious activities, active shooter scenarios, and what to do if they suspect an improvised explosive device. Ensure they understand security basics, emergency response, business continuity plans, and increased awareness of potential threats.

4. Report: “If You See Something, Say Something” is more than just a slogan. It should be acted upon as necessary. Call local law enforcement. Post details on reporting suspicious activity and encourage employees, tenants and visitors to report suspicious behavior to property management security or local law enforcement. Things to consider include unattended vehicles; repeat visitors or outsiders who have no apparent business in a nonpublic area; abandoned parcels, suitcases, backpacks and packages; and other unusual activity.

Share This Advice

EMS providers are trusted members of the community who may be asked for advice by people who want to do everything they can to prevent future loss of life from similar attacks. Sharing these free tools, as well as advocating and encouraging the four points of connecting, planning, training and reporting, can help make your hometown more secure. 

Download the fact sheet and learn more by visiting www.dhs.gov/hometown-security