Quote of the day/week/however long

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Playing Disaster

Want to liven up the ho-hum weekly consular section meeting, one of those in which officers and FSNs sit quietly and politely, desperately trying to look as if they're awake?  There is nothing easier.  Just tape to the nearest wall a large-font printout of 7 FAM 1881's "Primary Rules:"

• Get to where you can best assist the affected U.S. Citizens/U.S. noncitizen nationals ASAP.

• Arrive well equipped.

• Do your best to assure that all U.S. citizen/ U.S. non-citizen national victims and families at the scene get appropriate, timely assistance and care.

• Keep your mission and the Department updated - report early and often.

Give everyone a moment to absorb this list.  Then say something like:   "It's three AM.  You wake to the screaming of a thousand sirens.  You go to the window and see that the biggest tourist hotel in the city is burning against the sky."

Pause, then nod to the seniormost ACS FSN and ask, "What one thing will you do first?"  Then to an experienced officer, "What will you do first?"  To the seniormost visa FSN, "What will you do first?"

In very short order the group will get away from their personal actions (call relatives, pack an emergency suitcase in case the fire spreads, wake the spouse to drive the children to grandma's) to their professional impulses prompted by the list.  And you're off.

Don't move smoothly around the room but between people arbitrarily, including everyone, asking "Wait - what have we forgotten to do?"  "What then?  And what then?"  Anything and everything, as discordant and out of order as possible, keeping everyone thinking and re-thinking.  If you started this correctly, voices will almost immediately start interrupting, correcting, adding, re-sequencing. There will be excitement, eagerness, fast thinking, even laughter in the face of made-up catastrophe.

Let it run.  There are no wrong answers today, no flip chart, no black- or white board, no written notes, no instructions.  Time enough later - tomorrow - to rebuild your disaster SOP. The group that does that will be infinitely better prepared from having thought this through as if it were real, on the fly.  The document itself will not sit dead on the shelf, but will be remembered and instantly available in everyone's minds if they should wake some night to the sound of sirens.  And they will know what to do.

7 FAM 1800

1 comment:

Shannon said...

It’s Friday, and that means that the Weekly State Department Blog Roundup is up – and you’re on it!

Here is the link:

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