Suspicious Package? Now What?

Dealing with suspicious packages, whether a suspected bomb or a chemical/biological threat, businesses need procedures that are clearly defined and staff trained, not only to identify suspicious deliveries, but actions to take if a delivery is judged to be of concern.

All companies and businesses should conduct their own assessments based upon their own historical data and determine the likelihood of receiving an explosive or toxic package. Simply put, if you are a corner store florist with an employee list of two then generally speaking it is less likely that you are going to receive a mail bomb than perhaps, a multi national finance group or an engineering firm linked to the defence industry. However, your planning and procedures starts with awareness and vigilance.

Numerous websites offer free advice that, for the small business, is a great start. The US Postal website has a downloadable suspicious package poster as has the FBI website. In Australia, the Australian Federal Police Bomb Data Centre offers a similar download.

For larger companies that determine that they have an increased level of risk to such threats then much more detailed planning is advised. Engaging an emergency management advisor to apply specific analysis and develop site-specific procedures based upon the company’s vulnerability and capabilities is a great place to start. VISA for instance, in the United States has gone so far as to have a mail room that is separate from their facility and located in a transportable building. If a suspicious object or substance arrives by mail or courier then the building itself can be trucked or airlifted away for Police experts to handle the situation is a location where it does not pose a threat to VISA’s ongoing business.

Not every business has this level of capability, but the best starting point is to recognise the threat and develop a set of procedures to suit your capabilities today. Don’t wait until the package arrives to think “Now what?”