Travel Risk Management & Specialist Risk Consulting

Crisis Response Planning for the 2016 Summer Olympics


April 12th, 2016   Randy Haight

Whether your company is a corporate sponsor for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro or you have personnel who will be in attendance during the Olympic Games, do you have a Crisis Response Plan? If you do, now is the time to review these plans. If you do not, it’s not too late to consider your response.

Does your organization have a plan to track personnel while they are traveling? Is this an itinerary based Travel Tracker or will you be tracking individuals and assets via a GPS platform? Itinerary-based trackers only tell you where a person is supposed to be and does not necessarily tell you where they are. Conversely, if you have a GPS based tracking platform, you will have near real-time information on your personnel’s whereabouts. However, do you have a 24/7 operation that is capable of both tracking their whereabouts and responding to any emergency situations which may arise?

Will your personnel have a satellite telephone (sat phone) with them while traveling? It is a safe bet that during a significant crisis event, regular and mobile telephone services would become overburdened or shut down by authorities.

Have you identified vetted security resources in Brazil who can respond to your personnel in the event of a crisis?

Where are your personnel staying? Have you conducted a thorough assessment of the hotel(s) where they will be lodged? These evaluations should include (among other things) emergency escape routes as well as emergency rendezvous locations away from the hotel (in case the hotel itself becomes part of a crisis event).

What are your plans if one or more of your personnel becomes sick or injured? Do you have a medical repatriation plan that will conduct a medical evacuation from Brazil? If so, is this a membership plan or insurance plan? Ensure you are aware of the ‘fine print’ and check to see if the coverage includes repatriation to a hospital of your choice in your home country.

Tourists and personnel who are in Rio De Janeiro are likely to be targeted by criminals. These crimes range from petty theft to robbery and kidnapping. Do you have ‘special contingency’ insurance that covers stalking or kidnap for ransom events?

In the event there is a terrorist attack at one or more venues, how will you evacuate your personnel? Again, this may require solid in-country security resources who are equipped and trained to respond to your personnel.

Certain assumptions about crisis events (critical incidents) should be understood before your personnel travel. Your Crisis Response Plan(s) must be designed to address these assumptions:

  • The nature of these events are such, that when or where they may occur cannot be foretold, and they are usually chaotic and dynamic in nature.
  • Each crisis has its unique scope and nature such as; time of the event, type of event, the location of the event, impact on the population and intended impact upon an audience (in the event of a terrorist attack).
  • Crisis events often have a ‘compounding’ effect whereby further critical incidents are initiated as a result of unknown and unforeseen consequences stemming from the original incident.
  • Each event will have its set of ‘actors’. These include perpetrators, witnesses, victims, bystanders, government officials, media, law enforcement and other first responders. Each of these ‘actors’ will respond to critical incidents in a variety of ways that are unknown to your organization.
  • Ingress and egress to crisis sites will likely be blocked by authorities (police, security, military and first responders), making it difficult for affected personnel to leave and for emergency evacuation teams to access the area
  • During a critical incident of significant magnitude, landline and mobile telephone services as well as Internet service may be overwhelmed, shut down or suspended by government authorities.

The ONLY thing that your organization can safely predict is your response(s) to these events. Develop or refine your plans and policies now.