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Pragmatic Chaos

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By Nicholas Byrne, on June 3, 2013

At SAS, as in many public jurisdictions, the aim of emergency management is to be proactive and preventative in planning for potentially emergent situations that might arise impacting any of its 13,000+ employees at any of its 122 office locations worldwide. The “policy suite,” a comprehensive repository of the policies and procedures guiding Security & Safety’s (the umbrella department under which emergency management lies) work, is subject to continuous review and tweaking by department officials—many of whom are veteran law enforcement and/or military personnel. Part of my role is to assist in this ongoing effort.

The roles and responsibilities of Security & Safety are quite vast, ranging from parking control, gate access, and oversight of proprietary uniformed security to traffic coordination, natural disaster and medical emergency response, mass notification to employees, and tracking global political-security
threats. Part of my work this summer is to assess the various policies and procedures governing Safety & Security, identify key themes and linkages between different policies, and provide recommendations on how policies, procedures, work flows, and operational efficiencies can be improved to better serve the company.

The Global Security Operations Center (GSOC): Monitoring SAS’ Global Presence

As part of its approach to more effectively handling emergent situations, Security & Safety recently unveiled a new and improved Global Security Operation Center (GSOC for short) to oversee emergency management and response capabilities for SAS assets. The GSOC is akin to a bunker, staffed around the clock and with access to various communication feeds, which serves as a control center from which security and emergency response for the Cary Headquarters can be monitored, assets dispatched, and emergency response coordinated.

Posted on the whiteboard in my supervisor’s office are reminders of the spirit underlying emergency response. One of these reminders is the idiom “pragmatic chaos” which was described to me as the importance of handling inevitably chaotic situations (e.g., emergencies in general) with a sense of well-planned and well-anticipated response.  Indeed, activation of the GSOC and attention to continuous improvement processes driving policy development illustrate well this notion of “pragmatic chaos” and how emergency management efforts—both public and private—can effectively avert and/or manage imminent threats more comprehensively.

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