04 Mar Feature: G4S discuss how they have successfully managed evacuations in Lebanon
For people and businesses in Lebanon, stability has been hard to come by for some time. Mass civil demonstrations against the government have become commonplace in recent years, leading to an ongoing period of significant political instability and an economic crisis.
Long-term tensions with the borders in the south, and a land border shared with war-torn Syria to the east create further uncertainty. That’s before taking into consideration the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the tragic ammonium nitrate explosion in Beirut in August 2020 that caused over 200 deaths, thousands of injuries and the total destruction of many homes and business premises.
Yet, while the city’s Middle-East business hub status has taken a backdrop in recent decades to the rapid prominence of cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi; many international institutions, businesses and embassies maintain premises and teams in Lebanon – primarily located in the Beirut Central Business District.
For those institutions, the safety and security of their team members is essential, and many look to G4S to ensure that if events unfold that present a risk to their teams, they are expertly evacuated to a safe place away from harm.
“Every evacuation is different” said Youssef El Helou, MSS operations manager from G4S. “Our plans are sophisticated and intelligence-led. They give companies peace of mind that G4S is permanently monitoring any risks to their employees and we are ready to move in and initiate our evacuation plan at any moment.”
G4S has been operating in Lebanon since 2005, and offers a range of services to customers across the country including Manned Guarding, Journey Management, Event Management, Cash Transportation and Management, Risk Assessments, Early Warning Advisories and Land and Maritime Evacuation.
When planning evacuations, G4S Operations Managers work with each institution to tailor-design and create the evacuation plans for their teams. “There is a lot to consider when creating an evacuation plan that is going to be realistic, adaptable to a range of situations, and, most importantly, ensure the safety of the people we are protecting” said Ghassan Hayek, managing director of G4S Lebanon. “Our experienced and highly-trained operations managers are experts at doing just that.”
Once the evacuation plan has been agreed with the customer, it is then essential that G4S is able to urgently execute it if the need arises. “We have a big fleet of vehicles and drivers ready at our disposal to send out and evacuate people at a moment’s notice to an agreed safehouse, or airport, or out of the country by other means” said Youssef. “We are trained to think on our feet and adapt to the situations we are faced with. Airports might be closed due to disruption. Roads might be blocked. If evacuating somebody by road is not the best option, we have yachts and pilots who can evacuate people by sea to Cyprus or to another agreed safe destination.”
A key part of the service are the Early Warning Advisories that G4S issues to customers to warn them if there are any emerging concerns or issues that might present a risk to their teams. “Our operations managers are connected with the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces to ensure we are all sharing intelligence and monitoring any tensions” said Ghassan. “We assess the situation and risks to our customers, warn them about potential threats early and advise them accordingly. The decision to trigger an evacuation plan or not is then a mutual one between G4S and our customer.”
“Since we started operating in Lebanon in 2005, G4S has successfully triggered and executed evacuation plans for many of our customers when a risk has been posed to their teams. It is an insurance policy for these companies. They know we are taking care of their teams. They can rely on G4S to monitor tensions, and if the risk rises – they have confidence we will get them out of there by land or sea.”