Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Canada train crash, like the West Tx incident Points to threats always there

Police: Evidence criminal act may have led to Canada train crash -

Or it could have been an accident caused by not fully understanding the risk to the town, by both the firefighters and the City Fathers.  Understanding Risk is a key part of Government protecting its Citizens.

In any case how this incident happen could be the unimportant part.  The fact that a train, is often parked above the town, often with a large load of fuel is the key issue of Risk, it is always there, whether it is a criminal action, terrorist action, or an accident.  If you look at the city of West in Texas, the Fertilizer factory in the middle of town was always a risk, and one the City Fathers and Fire Departments should have been more aware of.

When a risk assessment is conducted for a City, County, or State, I often hear from the City Fathers, we do not expect a terrorist incident here, so we do not really feel we are at risk, but just are checking.

Risks like the railroad problem in Canada or the factory in West a small town in Texas are there.  The question is how to we mitigate the risk, from Terrorism, Criminal Incident, or accident.  At some point a value assessment has to be made.  Does the factory in the small town rate a lot of mitigation, or should it be removed from the town.  The same for the railroad in Canada, if the risk it potentially high enough that mitigation does not handle it cost effectively, should it be removed.

In most cases a mitigation plan can be established to meet the risk, or at least a town, County, State, even country believes it to be so.   Nuclear plants are a prime example, they are a risk, most of the money spent of reducing this risk has been to increase security, yet all the events associated with devastation caused by a Nuclear plant have been everything but security related.   So the risk is there, never changes, just the mitigation costs, should probably be more effectively used in non security events, which by the way will also mitigate a security related incident.

If we take this to the Plane crash in San Francisco, it is the same, the risk of death or damage from a crash is always there.  But we spend most of our mitigation funds on security, when in the end it may turn out that a first responder vehicle killed the victims.  Fire and EMS vehicles approaching an incident are often moving in a  low visibility situation.  Even in drills and exercises at airports when smoke is used, near accidents have occurred of running down actors in the drill.  This is a well know risk in these events, yet very little mitigation funds have been spent on this issue.

I am a security guy, but can not help but notice that events other than security issues cause the most deaths and destruction in the world.  Risk, is always there, throwing money at security always is a good answer, but is rarely the best way to spend the money.

We all need to take a sober look at risk, and evaluate what our mitigation money is spent on.

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