Large-Scale Evacuations: Tactics, Techniques & Protocols

In anticipation of GSX, we sat down with presenters of upcoming sessions in order to get a better understanding of the topics at hand. This week we are featuring, “Large-Scale Evacuations: Tactics, Techniques & Protocols,” presented by Henning Snyman, Security Director, US South Atlantic at International SOS, Jeremy Prout, CPP, APP, Regional Security Director at International SOS, John Rendeiro, Vice President at International SOS, and Julian Moro, Senior Vice President & Regional Security Director, Americas at International SOS. Read on for what they had to say and don’t forget to register for GSX 2022

Q: How did you become interested in your topic? 

HS: Every escalation that leads to a large-scale evacuation is unique and presents challenges given country, regional, political, and organizational dynamics. Very few escalations happen overnight and without notice and that is why organizations need to prepare for such events. Managing and coordinating large scale evacuation highlighted a lack of planning and preparation within organizations. The role of the Security Professional during an evacuation are not only reactive to manage the crisis but also leading from the front as the subject matter expert.     

Q: Tell us about your presentation and why should security professionals have this topic on their radar? 

JP: Large scale evacuations are incredibly complex and dynamic operations. To successfully accomplish these operations, Security Professionals need to have the planning and logistical infrastructure in place, prior to culmination of the crisis. The Kabul Airlift and Ukraine-Russia Conflict were two of the larger and more complex evacuation operations in the past few years but they will not be the last. The time to prepare for the next crisis is now. 

Q: What advice you would give security professionals interested in this topic? 

JR: -If you have a provider with extensive experience in conducting evacuations, talk to them about their experiences. Read case studies on evacuations of all types.  No two are the same.  They can be driven by individual circumstance, crime, medical emergencies, natural disasters, political unrest, wars and other causes. Many if not most evacuations involving multiple evacuees will have both security and medical components, so be aware that both will have to be addressed in an effective and coordinated fashion. Be sure to explore what governments can, and cannot, do for you in assisting with an evacuation. Understand the roles of the various stakeholders within your organization in advance of emergencies.  Ensure that your stakeholders are organized and become accustomed to working together as a Crisis Management Team. Have an experienced service provider; work with that provider in advance to ensure that both you and they understand expectations and lastly, attend educational sessions on evacuations at events like GSX.  

Q: How do you see this issue evolving in the next 2-5 years? 

JM: The geo-political risk landscape is trending upwards, exacerbated by the impact of climate change amongst other factors, resulting in increased likelihood of more frequent large-scale evacuations. On the back of Afghanistan and Ukraine, there will be an expectation on leaders that their organization is forward leaning, intelligence led and operationally prepared to support their entire workforce and continue business operations when crises manifest.