How Your Mall Can Shrink the Bullseye
5 Ways Malls Can Prepare for Emergencies
Last week we explained some common soft targets for terrorist activity, and ways to prevent becoming a target through effective safety and security measures. Since shopping centers and malls are a common soft target, we want to hone in on them to provide ways for owners, property managers and security personnel to prepare for emergency situations. Malls can be hard to manage because of the open, free-flow nature and the amount of people that are present at any given time. Preparing for different types of emergency situations like natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and active shooters, is imperative to the safety and security of visitors and property. Below are a 5 ways that you can effectively prepare to mitigate crisis situations in your mall or shopping center.
Conduct a Formal Risk Assessment
Although risk assessments typically require an upfront cost, they are highly effective in providing valuable feedback on safety and security vulnerabilities that your mall may face. Risk assessments identify hazards, evaluate the risk associated with each hazard and determine appropriate ways to eliminate the hazard. Assessments need to identify hazards that affect guests, as well as various employees and even store owners. By conducting a risk assessment, you are taking the first step in preparing for emergencies in your mall or shopping center.
Manage Access to Sensitive Areas
Malls have many areas that are restricted and house sensitive information. This is an area that needs to be managed well because if not, the safety of others will be at a higher risk. One way to manage the access to sensitive areas is to provide personnel with badges which allow them entry. You could also use biometrics for this purpose which reads and analyzes data such as fingerprints, voice, or retina scans. There are many options to secure sensitive areas, some more costly than others, but nonetheless, these areas should have a higher level of security than others.
Deliveries to malls are made at all hours of the day, including late nights and early mornings. Many malls have a perimeter around the delivery area that is often left open for trucks to easily access, but leaving your delivery open presents security vulnerabilities that someone could use for harm. To mitigate emergencies, set up a delivery schedule that security personnel are aware of and monitor trucks that are coming and going. Without monitoring deliveries to your mall, you are susceptible to a preventable crisis situation.
Develop & Rehearse Coordinated Responses
If an emergency takes place at a mall or shopping center, the response will likely come from many different agencies potentially across many counties. For instance, a fire may bring in three different departments, plus medical services from other counties that will distribute victims to a number of hospitals. For this to go smoothly, the response must be coordinated and timely. Start by developing emergency response plans that meet a variety of needs specific to your facility and your region. Next, use drills and bring different first responders together to reach a common goal of partnership and cohesion while executing the emergency plans you have put in place.
Standardize Anti-Terrorism Training
With an open and freely accessed facility, anti-terrorism training is imperative for shop owners, as well as employees and security personnel. Teaching individuals what to look for, how to determine suspicious behavior and how to report are the starting point for a safer and more secure mall. When writing plans and training against terrorism, ensure that it is standardized across the board for all receiving the training and is provided in a timely manner to avoid liability.
When dealing with anti-terrorism policies and procedures in a mall, you must be proactive and diligent. By conducting a risk assessment, managing sensitive areas, monitoring deliveries, developing coordinated responses, and providing standardized training, you are preparing for emergencies that have the potential to happen in your facility. These easy to implement steps can help to shrink the bullseye that sits over a shopping center for terrorist activity.