In Australia, bomb threats are received at a relatively low rate. However, the potential of such a device is catastrophic and it is essential that every business prepares for such threats. Furthermore, legislation requires organisations to plan for emergencies (AS 3745-2010) and bomb threat procedures are just part of planning.
Bomb threat procedures guide staff through essential first response requirements designed to keep staff and customers safe. Gathering key information and assessing the risk can be done quite easily. To have a system and process in place will facilitate an escalated response if required. Above all, it will help the emergency services identify and assess the risk.
Bomb threat procedures and the initial call
The best thing a staff member can do when taking a call for a bomb threat. Is firstly, to remain calm (easier said than done) and keep the caller on the line for as long as possible. Furthermore, don’t hang up even when the caller has hung up.
Be as polite as possible and demonstrate the same amount of respect you would show to anyone else. We need to get as much relevant information from the caller as possible. Employers must understand that this can be a very traumatic situation for any employee. Therefore, the better the planning the more likely employees will respond to the call effectively.
This information will need to be relayed to the authorities. Therefore, if the employee can get the attention of co-workers the emergency response plan can start to be put in place.
As the bomb threat management plan is activated key personnel in your emergency control organisation (ECO) can call the authorities and activate evacuation procedures.
What to ask the caller
It should never be left up to the call taker to remember the questions to ask. Even so, confidence building during exercises will help employees remember information. There are a number of great checklist on the internet or simply make one of your own.
Ideally, try and listen for background noise and make a mental note of anything you hear. Try not to prompt the caller with the name or locations of the facilities. Letting them talk may provide more clues about the identity of the caller. Also, write down the time and date of the call. The authorities will be able to confirm this and it may provide relevant matching information.
Ask where the bomb is located and what it looks like. Maybe the caller has an accent or speech impediment. Try not to use a mobile phone it may set off the bomb if there is one.
Here are some of the important factors relating to the information you can gather:
- Don’t put the caller on hold or transfer to another line
- Did you notice the return number on the caller ID?
- Note the time received and terminated
- Put down the exact word of the caller
- Delay the caller by asking to repeat
- Ask if the bomb is set to explode
- Where is it located
- What type of bomb is it and what does it look like
- What are they placing the bomb
- Did you recognise the voice
- Were there any unusual phrases
- Where there any background noises
Types of Bomb Threats
Threats can come in many forms from phone calls to written letters. Often the threat may be face to face or even via email. Even so, the majority are false alarms, all threat should be taken seriously unto confirmed no threat by the authorities.
What constitutes a suspicious
- Excessive tape or string
- Rigid or bulky
- Lopsided or uneven
- Protruding wires or metal
- Strange odour
- Wrong title with a name
- Oily stains, discolouration or crystallization on the wrapping
- If the package arrived in unusual circumstances
- A package left unattended or out of place
- Excessive weight
- Ticking sound
- Misspelling of common words
- No return address
What would you do with a suspicious package
- Firstly, disallow anyone to touch or move it
- Secondly, exclude anyone from shaking or emptying the contents
- Don’t try to clean or adjust
- Refrain from using your mobile, computer, radio near the area
- Alert you fire warden or supervisor (Someone must call triple zero
- Follow directions of the fire warden and evacuate the area
- Finally. close doors (this may help to contain a blast)
You may be directed to other areas just in case of secondary devices.
Finally, within Australia, the legislation provides an organisation with a good guide on how to plan for emergencies (AS 3745-2010). This includes, but is not limited to bomb threat procedures and suspicious packages. Emergency management plans should always be contextualised to an organisation following the established procedures.
Note: if your organization doesn’t have a plan yet please give us a call to discuss the emergency management planning operation