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Like many Americans, I have really enjoyed watching the London Olympics. Thankfully, since the games started the focus has been on the athletes and the experience of watching so many countries come together.

Before any swimmer hit the pool, however, a big focus was placed on security issues in London, just as it was during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. In fact, I joined the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Department of Homeland Security as a member of the Olympic planning team.

Obviously one of the most painful memories in Georgia’s recent history was the tragic bombing that occurred at the 1996 Olympic Games. However, terrorism can potentially be a threat at any time, not just during big events.

There are a few things residents and employers to support local security officials can do that really do make a difference:

1. Be Prepared: Being prepared is crucial to any emergency situation, regardless of whether it is a man-made threat or severe weather. Putting together a Ready kit with emergency supplies and developing a communications plan for your family are important steps that don’t take much time. The best part is preparing once can get you ready for a wide variety emergencies.

2. Be Aware: All Georgians should begin to learn about potential threats and know that by making a simple phone call, you may help thwart a terrorist attack. If you notice something out of the ordinary, such as a suspicious person or activity, be sure to alert law enforcement or send a tip to the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Check out our website for different types of suspicious behavior that may be a threat.

3. Prepare Your Business: Terrorism threats and incidents also have an impact on the economy and local businesses. Make sure your employer has a business continuity plan set up to deal with emergency scenarios and maintain critical services and communication links.

Tina Saunders, our Critical Infrastructure Protection Specialist, offers this advice: “There is no substitute for proactive planning prior to any emergency situation. It’s the key to recognizing where organizations are vulnerable in their operations and mitigating them with a solid plan including for the ‘what ifs.’ A good plan allows for faster reaction, response and recovery.”

Download the Ready Your Business Guide on our site for a template to creating a business continuity plan at your workplace.

This type of preparation and awareness is key to keeping our community safe. So whether you enjoy basketball, gymnastics, judo or handball, let’s root for a safe and enjoyable Olympics.

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