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CEAS card assists in disaster recovery

Corporate Emergency Access System (CEAS) : 15 August, 2008  (New Product)
Second responder card from CEAS enables designated personnel to access critical resources to assist in the recovery from disasters
Second responder access is critical to recovery after a disaster and business executives and owners are urged to assess their company’s emergency preparedness plans in advance of National Preparedness Month -- a nationwide effort held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies.

“Many businesses leaders have heeded the warnings about disaster and business continuity planning,” said Dr. Robert Leviton, president and chairman of the board of the Corporate Emergency Access System (CEAS), but stressed it is not enough to simply invoke an off-site disaster and business continuity plan. “The big question is: How do critical employees --- second responders --- access their facilities after the threats to life and property have subsided?”

Police, fire and other emergency services typically move people away from the site of a disaster, and then seal the area with no provision for limited, controlled access, Leviton said. “How quickly a company gets back to business after a fire or flood, terrorist attack, tornado, or man-made crisis often depends on emergency planning done now,” Leviton said. CEAS is the only private-sector access control system recognized by municipalities that gives as second responders access to businesses within restricted areas following a disaster or serious emergency. Second responders include workers that are vital to the restoration of disaster sites after recovery operations and enable businesses to get 'back to normal' as soon as practicable.

“We learned important lessons from 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina,” Leviton said. “Both disasters illustrated that the aftermath of an initial catastrophic event can paralyze business operations because access to the physical bricks and mortar businesses were restricted after threats to life and property were stabilised.”

“Eighty-five percent of our nation’s critical infrastructure – transportation systems, banking and finance, and energy, for example -- is owned by the private sector,” Leviton said, “and without access after a disaster, getting ‘back to normal’ is impossible.”

CEAS access provides the opportunity for a small group of pre-designated second responders to recover files, computers, or data necessary to keep a business running, or to secure systems and valuables important to business operations, according to Leviton.

Leviton stressed the time for businesses to plan is now, before disaster strikes, though admitted getting executives and owners to act is difficult as revealed in a recent Office Depot survey: 25 percent of business owners said they would rather deal with a disaster when it occurs rather than get ahead of a potential problem.

But lack of planning can have dire consequences according to the Association of Small Business Development Centres:.

* More than one in four businesses will experience a significant crisis in a given year.
* Of those businesses that experience a disaster and have no emergency plan, 43 percent never reopen.
* Of those that do reopen, only 29 percent are still operating two years later.

CEAS was developed in New York State during the 1990’s by the Business Network of Emergency Resources, a not-for-profit organisation that pioneered this emergency-identification-card-based capability. The CEAS card is recognised by the police and authenticates critical private and public-sector employees – known as “second responders” -- for access to restricted areas following a disaster or serious emergency. The system is free to local governments and must be adopted by local municipalities for use in a jurisdiction before businesses can enrol in the program and receive ID cards. Local authorities participating in the program typically implement CEAS following an emergency once immediate threats to life are stabilised. The program allows businesses rapid access to restricted areas following emergency events and helps mitigate loss and damages.

By allowing safe and secure emergency access, CEAS gives businesses the opportunity to put a sound emergency management plan in place and not only ensures rapid recovery of essential business operations, but also helps provide the important and needed access to organisations responsible for maintaining critical infrastructure. Access also enables designated employees to conduct damage assessments and much more.

CEAS has been adopted by major cities throughout the United States, including New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston.

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