We take Business Continuity and Incident Management very seriously, and hold a major incident simulation annually. Today we had another - quite scary as usual - and although a group of us were asked to assemble at a particular time with no idea what would happen, we had a suspicion it would be based on a reputation incident rather than a physical one due to the presence of most of our comms team.
So, we arrived, and this was the calm before the storm....
After a short briefing we were off. Thank goodness I wasn't Incident Manager, but part of a standby team - in a separate room, waiting to be called. We were played a short radio clip, supposedly from Radio Sheffield about 4 students being arrested at dawn, supposedly from University accommodation, and not given much more information. NOTE - THIS WAS A SIMULATION - IT DIDN'T REALLY HAPPEN. Sorry about the shouting. Apparently simulations have been known to become real incidents when information has leaked and people haven't realised. As well as the information we were drip fed, we also had a twitter feed to follow. Four members of CiCS had 10 fake twitter accounts with different profiles - students, staff, local resident, journalist etc - and tweeted from them from the duration of the incident. We had the incident team in one room, and the comms team in another. The whole thing was a test of how we would repond to an incident receiveing a lot of media and social media attention, when we had little information. I was late to be called, so I did what I would have done in real life, and stormed in asking what was going on :-) Then I was asked to step outside (for a breath of fresh air) and was doorstepped by a BBC journalist complete with camera and microphone and had to give a live interview.
Later we had a press conference, with an elected spokesperson and a number of nasty journalists in the audience (including me).
It was very tiring, stressful, enjoyable, interesting - and a great test of how we might cope. Somethings went really well, others could do with improving, but that's what it was for - to learn from.