Before I start off narrating a day in my life undertaking the Semi Live Crisis Exercise, here’s some context of my job, which I prefer not to reveal, but it involves a fair amount of diplomatic and political objectives. Thus it’s significant to have these exercises to prep for real crisis. In this case, any time of intense difficulty or danger could be considered a crisis – eg. terrorist attack, natural disaster etc.
After several sessions of workshops and briefing, the day has finally arrived. We are about to go through 4 hours of Semi Live Crisis Exercise – with paparazzi, victims, mock telephone numbers and email addresses for communications etc.
Almost everyone has a specific role – eg. a member of the field deployment team, a log keeper or to role-play as victims etc. But not me. I was told to be on standby and assist the core team whenever required. Without any background on Crisis Management, and not knowing what to expect, all I feel is anxiety surging through my veins!
It started off with a loud speaker announcement in the office saying that we have received breaking news of a fire outbreak in a hostel nearby with 35 x-country Nationals involved, the Crisis Leader then called for a meeting with the Core Crisis Team. I decided to remain calm at my desk, but around me, the Core Team Members were giving orders to each other and dashing into the conference room which has now transformed into a Crisis Operation Centre. Stress is building up! And it is extremely hard to keep calm and do nothing.
Minutes later, another two crisis take place – one being an Ebola outbreak and another kidnap case in KK (Note: these are just mock cases for the exercise). I was asked to assist the Consul Team to send email updates to the Crisis Management Head Office back in country-x. The exercise was so real I was shaking while typing those emails.
Hours later, I was assigned to take over the log keeper’s role in the Information Management Team – to gather information from various parties and log them on the boards in the Operation Centre. It was a daunting role – as you will be the ‘go-to’ person for information. i.e. the Crisis Leader/Manager will gather information from this team and release statements to media/back to the head office.
15 minutes into the role, it was announced that the exercise is officially over! Everyone cheered like their favourite team scored a goal! It was such a huge relieve! I was screaming joy in my heart! 4 hours went by so quickly because things are moving at an enormous speed and to keep up with the pace is just insane! I can’t imagine being in a real crisis situation, it might go on for days, and definitely not a matter of 4 hours. But at least this has given me a flavour of how stressful and tense a real life crisis could be. And I hope it gives you a flavour too by reading this post.
After the exercise we were treated with O’Brien’s Sandwiches and fresh juices, followed by a post-mortem session with the trainers. The Consul Manager gave me a pat on my back, praising a good job done and would like to have me in the core team. I personally thought I would require more training and experience to take up any role like this, and do not enjoy the adrenaline like some others do! Nevertheless I’m very thankful for the lessons learned this day.