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How to Combine Training & Technology to Handle Bomb Threats

, , | May 12, 2016 | By

Today is not like any other Monday.

It is exam day.

You expect your college campus to fill up with “eager” students running to their exams. You even enjoy it because you reminisce your college days.

You remember, the panic to make your exam on time, the late night cram, and a month’s worth of coffee your parents sent you – finished in one week.

You think to yourself every semester, “Those were the days.” Sometimes you miss them.

As you finish daydreaming, you make it to your office at 7:15 AM. You start making your rounds on the radio.

“Come in, John.” John, your security supervisor, responds, “Morning.” He is making his way to your office for your Monday morning supervisor meeting. “I’ll be there in 10 minutes; I have to check something out at the library.” “10-4,” you reply.

You grab a cup of coffee and start reviewing the high priority reports on your desk.

Emotions run high on exam day, so you expect to be interrupted with calls. It happens all the time. A student cuts another student in line at the testing lab. A brief altercation erupts, and then everyone moves on his or her way.

You are in charge, which unfortunately means you have to get involved to ensure there is no need for an incident report.

Five minutes after you begin reviewing reports, it happens. John comes in over the radio. You are expecting the usual.

However, this call is not the usual.

“We’ve got a bomb threat. A suspicious note claims six bombs in six buildings.” You react, “Start clearing them out!”

Your team has never experienced a bomb threat.

  • How does your team handle this?
  • How confident are you in their training?
  • Are you using radios to communicate with students, staff, and key stakeholders?

You have a lot to manage and limited time.

You must mitigate this incident effectively. Can you?

Prepare Staff for a Bomb Threat Comparable to Tufts University

Niraj Chokshi of The Washington Post writes, “Tufts University resumed ‘limited operations’ Monday after a morning bomb threat and car fire prompted the search of several campus buildings.”

According to Niraj, “Police and firefighters responding to a car fire early Monday morning discovered a note, which Tufts described in a statement as ‘suspicious,’ stating that bombs were present in about a half-dozen campus buildings, which were evacuated and searched throughout the morning. The buildings were cleared by early afternoon.”

We are not talking about one bomb; the note threatens multiple bombs in various buildings.

Would your team be able to handle a threat of this scale?

Your team’s ability to execute your emergency management plan is vital. Two critical areas that we recommend you focus on are:

  1. Staff training and tabletop exercises
  2. Implementing incident management solutions

It is important that you to get your emergency management strategy into motion with a well-trained and high performing team that can be ready for anything.

Help your staff develop the knowledge to mitigate incidents, such as bomb threats, or anything else that may occur at your property.

Integrate tabletop exercises into your training process.

Create a training process for returning, new, and temporary staff. Bring together relevant policies and procedures from your emergency management strategy into semi-fictional scenarios that get positive results.

Your staff learns what you need them to do and how you need them to do it.

Ask questions that will bring to the surface your operational weaknesses:

  • Does staff have the awareness necessary to identify potential hazards before they occur or escalate?
  • What if a suspicious person or package appeared on your property? How does your team handle this? Who do they communicate with first? How do they communicate?
  • Does staff have the appropriate training and the ability to handle a bomb threat professionally?

Your preparation is critical.

  • Do you have bomb threat protocols put in place?
  • Is your staff well trained on these protocols?

To fill in any gaps, we have put rules together for you to implement, practice, and execute.

Remember, to have Proactive Operations in place, you must start with top-notch strategy.

Whether you have an existing plan or this is a first, use these as a standard.

You need to practice these steps with your staff. Doing this ensures that everyone’s prepared to create a safe environment.

Mitigate Bomb Threats Using Tabletop Exercises

  1. All bomb threats received at your property must be reported immediately to the command post and property If the bomb threat is received during an event, the command post will inform the Manager on Duty (MOD) and/or the Incident Management Team, and the Command Officers from the police department and fire rescue.
    1. If a bomb threat is phoned in, the recipient of the threat must keep possession of a bomb threat information sheet until it is given to the appropriate official.
    2. If the bomb threat is received in written format, all materials (envelope or box) received along with the threat must be maintained and turned over to the appropriate official.
    3. If an individual personally reports the bomb threat, officials will be requested to the location of the reporting person.
  2. All information known about the bomb threat will be reviewed by commanders from the police department and fire rescue, in conjunction with the Manager on Duty and/or members of the Incident Management Team.
  3. The decision to conduct a full or partial evacuation of the entire property will be a collaborative effort by the members of the police department, fire rescue, and the Incident Management Team.

We are always looking out for your peace of mind, which is why we have a bonus for you. Below are four guidelines your team can use for searches.

This will make your training efforts stronger.

Search Guidelines for Bomb Threats

  1. If approved, property personnel who are familiar with the area(s) of search should be utilized to search designated area(s).
  2. Rooms and enclosed area searches should be made with two person search teams who divide the space into search zones by both height and floor area.
  3. Search teams should look for unusual objects, a package similar to one that might have been described in the conversation with the telephone caller; or a package whose origin is questionable and/or suspicious in nature. Do not touch or disturb such objects.
  4. Upon completion of the search of each area, the Command Post should be notified who will note the end of each zone's search.

Incident Management Solutions Provide Peace of Mind

Your emergency plan contains the breakdown for all your protocols to handle issues and incidents at your property.

You want this information communicated effectively to your staff when they need it most.


It is vital for you to understand that giving your staff the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently is the goal.

To gain real-time data and have communication throughout all your departments, you must put the right incident management infrastructure in place.

Real-time communication is the only way to receive real-time data. It is vital in an emergency.

You want to minimize or eliminate the negative impact that communication problems have on your success.

An incident management system gives you the essential information you can use during emergencies, incidents, or issues. It also allows you to automatically notify the need-to-know personnel, cutting down critical time.

Augmenting it with hand-held mobile apps lets your staff efficiently communicate protocols to handle, when they need to be managed, and how each needs to be treated.

Your staff on the front lines can report incidents in seconds, directly into your incident management system.

It gets better because the system is not only capturing the event.

  1. It captures every action associated with that incident.
  2. It communicates proper protocols to your emergency response teams.

Frequent incidents pose a challenge in operations. Would you agree?

Emergencies cannot. There’s no room for error here.

That is why you need a progressive incident management solution and a solid structure in place.

Consider our introductory scenario from above.

What needs to be done? You need to communicate immediately to all your departments for starters, right?

Timing is of the essence for safety.

Advanced communication lets you inform your staff that it is time to execute associated bomb threat protocols.

It is how you handle a bomb threat, keep your guests safe, and achieve peace of mind.

Over to You

In many cases, bomb threats are only that, a threat. However, you must treat each with the same level of professionalism and efficiency.

Employing proactive operations through staff training and incident management solutions limits the errors. Your team knows how to and can successfully handle potential emergencies with the help of streamlined communication.

If today were your property’s “exam day,” would you pass?

Download our free eBook about incident management software

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