The session was called to discuss steps that could be taken in the case of a crisis.
“Crisis” was defined as a period of extreme negative response to animal research taking place at an establishment.
During discussion overall aspects on how to be prepared was also discussed and is included below.
Support already available was identified:
From an establishment point of view the group felt that there was a support network available which ranged from manager/scientific network between establishments and the following organisations:
Support4RS – noted that this is a subscribed for service now and no longer a free support resource
UAR – on-line forum
Some of the group were not aware of the on-line forum information on the site but this maybe because individuals had not registered.
Action point – suggest all delegates register / could support to individuals be clearer
Support at Establishment Level
The benefits of having the support of the local community (Internal and external) was discussed.
There was a collective view that being open with staff employed in other sectors of the establishment would be particularly beneficial, some large establishments like hospitals employ people who are not aware of the research facilities, if they were familiar with the facilities and aware of specific local achievements there would be support should a crisis occur.
The same was felt regarding local communities surrounding the establishment.
There was some concern regarding establishments who are split over more than one campus whereby there can be a loss of trust between groups during a crisis and a lack of internal support between campuses, this can be difficult but its possible team building exercises may help although time to action this may be a limiting factor esp. in large facilities.
Action points –
- Integrating staff i.e.: administration/animal care/research – could be via inductions or open days etc.
- Encourage short seminars in “layman’s terms” and invite administration and other non-research staff to attend
There was some concern that on a personal level individuals may feel isolated in times of a crisis and more junior animal care staff may feel particularly concerned and vulnerable.
The group discussed this aspect and did feel that workplaces do now offer counselling in a crisis situation but felt staff were reluctant to discuss the sensitive issues with professionals not involved in research.
It was suggested that perhaps there needs to be an “early career technical” support network to help those in need, perhaps this could be investigated.
Action point – investigate opportunities to provide a support network to council those in need during a crisis.
It was suggested that establishments prepared well thought-out statements that could be easily adjusted at the time of a crisis.
It was important that the initial statement was factual and easy to adapt as there was usually very little time to respond.
It was muted that sometimes getting the sign-off on a statement is a major obstacle and can severely delay a report going to press.
Suggested that the statement should form part of a risk management process and reviewed annually to ensure they are up-to-date and fit for purpose.
Select response committee – Having a list of named individuals that could be called upon in an emergency was also suggested, perhaps with more than one person who had authority to sign-off press statements.
Action point – establishments to be reminded to plan or review their statements annually.
During past incidences personnel have expressed concern regarding their own security and it was suggested that staff receive specific training regarding making their own digital profile secure.
Action point – individual establishment should consider arranging a training session to cover on-line training.
On-line / social network support
There was considerable discussion regarding being able to support each other using on-line posts etc. at the time of a crisis.
Whilst people are generally happy to contact people by telephone to offer support there was general reluctance to post messages of support on-line largely due to there being insufficient access to the full facts.