Organizational Resilience in Emergencies: a Foundation for Survivors of Torture Programs


No votes yet


Wednesday, 13 November 2013


Emergencies can occur in many and unexpected ways. It may be a broken water pipe that floods your critical operations location but affects only your organization. Or it could be an all-encompassing and dramatic event like an earthquake or hurricane that affects not only your organization but possibly your entire city. A resilient organization will have the ability to effectively respond to and recover from these challenging situations with minimal disruption to the essential  services they provide to their  clients.  More and more funders also want to be sure that organizations they work with have plans in place to assure that they will be able to protect their vital information and continue providing services even when confronted by extreme circumstances.  The webinar will help set you on the path to creating your own emergency preparedness plan.


During an emergency situation, whether it is manmade or natural, individuals, groups and organizations need to be able to respond in a knowledge led manner, with confidence, structure and some level of expertise. Often organizations are poorly prepared to identify, respond to, and recover from an emergency situation, placing themselves, their staff and their work at risk. This training will provide the foundation upon which organizational resilience can be built, providing some basic concepts and tools to build safety and security practices into your offices, events and activities.


After attending this webinar participants will be able to:

  1. Describe how to set up an emergency preparedness team
  2. Describe basic concepts of safety and security practices
  3. Act on the steps necessary  to construct an emergency plan that works for their organization


Michael Blyth

Director, Risk Consulting

RSM Corp

Mike Blyth is the Director of Risk Strategies for RSM Consulting, and has held various corporate Vice President appointments for international security and risk management companies, within both operational risk management and business strategies, combining a wealth of international experience and knowledge with a Masters Degree in Security Management. Mike assists commercial and government groups with both strategic and operational tailored solutions for global enterprises, including nuclear, hydrocarbon, power and water, aviation and maritime, construction, development and consulting sectors.

Mike has diverse operations and security consulting experience, including an appointment by the U.S State Department to provide security and crisis management of operational United States, United Kingdom and Australian land, sea and air forces and assets. Mike has designed and directed the training of numerous foreign nation peace support and special forces, from the Czech Republic to Kazakhstan, advising presidents, ministers and senior military staffs on governmental reform measures. Mike has also provided strategic security policy papers on behalf of the British and American governments and is an advanced Stress Trauma Counselor. He is author of the internationally released books; Security and Risk Management: Protecting People and Sites Worldwide and Business Continuity Management: Building the Incident Management Plan, and is published within various international risk and security trade magazines such as Jane’s Defense, ASIS, Executive Business and the Professional Security Management magazine, as well as being a public speaker for international risk management companies, OSAC the UN, Inside NGO, the Energy Security Council and other industry forums.

While it was not possible to record this webinar, please see below for a selection of questions that were asked during the session and a number of resources that can be accessed for more information.

Questions from the Webinar

Q:  What are the skills and traits to look for in members of a security management team?

A:   There should be people who have knowledge of various departments in the organization.  For example, computer and technical areas, human resources, possibly finance.  The team should have the authority to make short-term emergency decisions. 

Q: How often should you try to define or identify new risks?

A: Once a year for the United States. You can look at crime maps provided by the police department and similar agencies to determine your risk. Also consider the nature of what you’re doing and if it changed – does that change bring a new risk?

Q:  Can you recommend some resources organizations can call onto get more information on risks in their own location?


  • Local police department
  • Local department of transportation (it might be good to know what kind of materials are regularly transported through your area or carried on train tracks if they are close to your location.)
  • Local port authority (what materials are regularly shipped into and out of your area)
  • County Emergency Manager
  • Red Cross

Q:  Do you recommend keeping critical organizational information in more than one location?

A:  Yes.  There are many options, cloud based, bank deposit box, even putting the information in a portable format such as a flash drive and putting it in custody of someone to take home. Be wary of the information being in 2 vulnerable locations.  If you keep the info in your local bank and your entire city is evacuated, it won’t be available.

Be sure to look at the PowerPoint slides on Defining Risks,  Probability & Impacts, and Risk Registry.  These slides outline a method for evaluating risks specific to your work and your organization.

There are many online resources available for more information

General Planning

From Numerous articles on disaster planning for non-profits including scenario planning and contingency planning.

From Ready or Not Philadelphia: Continuity of Operations Worksheet:  A checklist for planning

From NonProfit Coordinating Committee of NY: Disaster Planning, Emergency Preparedness & Business Continuity

This document is a guide that offers the points an organization needs to think about in order to prepare its own disaster recovery plan so that, should an interruption occur, it is able to resume operations. Look here for handy checklists regarding records, computers and technology, data, and the organization’s physical location

From FEMA: The fourth edition of the National Response Framework, updated in 2019, provides context for how the whole communityworks together and how response efforts relate to other parts of national preparedness. It is one of the five documents in a suite of National Planning Frameworks. Each Framework covers one preparedness mission area: Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response or Recovery.

How to make sure that your critical organizational information (staff contact information, client contact information, organizational data) is safe and accessible when needed

TechSoup (

TechSoup is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on connecting nonprofits, charities, or public libraries with technology products and solutions, plus the learning resources needed to make informed decisions about technology and operate at full potential.


Disaster Planning:  What you Need to Protect your Technology


The Resilient Organization:  A Guide for Disaster Planning and Recovery

According to the TechSoup website:  The Resilient Organization is a holistic guide to disaster planning and recovery. This book is intended both for organizations striving to be better prepared for an emergency and for organizations striving to rebuild and maintain operations after a disaster.

Resources to help communication with your clients

ECHO Minnesota (

ECHO is an organization whose mission is to bridge the gap in communicating health and safety information for immigrants and refugees. Through close collaborations with health and safety experts, bilingual community leaders and spokespersons, ECHO has created a number of videos on health and safety issues for those with limited English proficiency.  There is a Minnesota bent to some of the information (there may be differences in state driving laws for example) but most of the information is valid anywhere in the US.

Topics include:

  • Flood preparedness
  • Fire prevention
  • Calling 911 in an emergency

Languages include:

  • Khmer
  • Somali
  • Vietnamese
  • Lao
  • Spanish
  • Hmong

With some titles available in

  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Karen
  • Oromo
  • Russian

What are your local risks?

In addition to resources mentioned above: 

To see recent reports of crime in your neighborhood:

If you are located in California the state has a site that can help you assess the fire, earthquake or flooding risk in your area:


Add new comment