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The Paradox of the Sand Castle and the Crisis Management

By: Luiz Hargreaves, AAS, MD, Msc
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It is usual to find on beaches, sand castles being built. They arouse the curiosity of many, especially children and are really true masterpieces. However, the more elaborate and larger they are, the easier it is for them to be destroyed, what ends up constituting a paradox. The more sophisticated, the more fragile.

Frequently, we find in the security area, public and private, but also in emergency response, services that invest heavily in technology and the latest equipment. Ambulances with cameras filming everything that goes on during the response with broadcast satellite service, as well as security equipment capable of detecting traces of explosives and many other technological advances. It's the sand castle being built and in a sophisticated way.

It happens, however, that often, these services are unable to prevent an intruder armed with a knife or a gun from getting into a company, for example. In the case of emergency services, we can talk about teams that are unable to rescue victims within the first minutes or even professionals that are not properly prepared and ready to act. It's sandcastle crumbling.

It is essential that organizations upgrade and invest more in technology and are always upgrading. It is critical, however, that this modernization be built over a very well structured system. The expansion of services is very welcome, as long as the basics are being done well. Incidentally, there is a concept that should always be on our minds. If something is going wrong in a system, go back to basics and review processes.

Equipment and machines are very useful to help security and emergency operators. However it is necessary that we be prepared to know exactly what we are looking for, at the same time that we can understand what can be seen and interpreted properly. Common sense, good judgment and decision making are essential for anyone working with crisis management. Technology helps, but it is not enough to decide, much less to take the consequences.

The routine and lack of serious events often lead to a complacent look and behavior from whom should always be monitoring. The most critical event that deserves attention for crisis management people is not one that is scheduled to happen, but one that can occur at any time, without notice or capable of arousing suspicion. It is true in security and emergencies situations.

When the sand castle is destroyed, it does not matter whose guilt it was: the wind's, the sea's or the people's around it. What really matters is that it was destroyed....


Luiz Hargreaves, AAS, MD, MS, MA is a qualified Expert in Crisis Management and Disaster Preparedness. He has been working in these fields for more than 30 years, with a large experience in major events, counterterrorism, disaster prevention and emergency planning.

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