Using Attainium’s Conduct It Yourself™ Tabletop Exercises
With offices in many of the nation’s largest cities, as well as in Bermuda and London, Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold (SMDA) LLP has the potential for disruption of its operations by a broad range of natural and man-made disasters. Because of this, the law firm is committed to providing for the safety of its approximately 750 employees in 12 cities around the globe as well as ensuring that it can continue to serve its clients, including some of the world's largest corporations, insurers, and businesses, without disruption.
Jim Nations, Director of Operations-East for the law firm, has responsibility for maintaining the effectiveness of the firm’s disaster preparedness plans. This responsibility includes the training of crisis teams in each of 10 offices in the United States. Nations had attended the Disaster Experience that Attainium Corp. conducted for the Association of Legal Administrators in 2007 and found the training to be particularly effective. He learned that the company had a Conduct-It-Yourself™ version of the program and decided to use it to test SMDA’s current plan and find ways to enhance the firm’s preparedness.
"The Conduct-It-Yourself training is a desktop exercise that I felt would put everyone on the same page and build some camaraderie," Nations said. "Because of our dispersed personnel, the logistics of training in every office was difficult, so we decided to do the exercise via our video conference equipment, with up to five people in each office. I sent everyone the written materials we would be using with the power-point presentation.
"I purchased the gas-main explosion scenario since that was something that could conceivably happen in any of our locations," Nations said. "We wanted to focus particularly on the security and safety issues, and gas-main exercise was right on. Everyone loved the training – it had a definite Wow! factor, and there was a lot of learning as well. Although we have quite a complete plan, we found some things we hadn’t thought about and are improving those aspects of our plan. The exercise raised a lot of questions that we wouldn’t have thought about without the live drill. One thing we have done as a result of the training is to have the actual plan hosted by a third-party vendor since we’d be in trouble if it was only on our server.
"The exercise was very sobering," Nations added. "It brought home the reality that, when an emergency strikes, you have to be calm and controlled, but you have to act. Doing nothing is not an option – and the first concern must be life safety.
"The fact that the exercise was designed for law firms meant that I was able to use it without additional customization," Nations said. “Even though the location of our offices means they have varied disaster potential, the exercise worked well for everyone. The only thing we changed was the timeframe of the exercise since we were working with offices in different time zones. The exercise was extremely successful."
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