Responding to a Telephone Bomb Threat

With the threat of terrorism becoming more apparent, several companies take up measures on how to react in certain attacks. However, this very threat is causing some offices to become victims of extortion and even pranks.

For instance, your receptionist answers the phone and hears the caller claiming that he has planted a bomb in your place of business. He also adds that unless the company place a stated amount of money in a trash can in a nearby park, he will detonate the bomb.

The bomb threat may have "extortion" written all over, as there are several similar cases, you don’t simply ignore a possible danger.

Although we do not wish your office to have such problem, here is our suggestion how to respond to such threatening calls.

Remain calm – Train your employees not to panic when they receive a phone call alerting the office of a bomb. It is important to keep the call running and talk to the caller as they gather more information, as well as to give more time for the phone’s caller ID to track where the other end of the line is located.

Ask for more – Once the bomb threat is received, ask the caller about the bomb, and eventually the caller. When is it going to explode? Where is it? What does it look like? What will cause it to explode? Did the caller himself place the bomb? Why did he place the bomb in your business? What is his name? Where does he live? Some pranksters may accidentally give out their personal information, which makes it easier for the cops to track them down.

Take notes and listen – Write down what the caller exactly said about the threat as well as his response to the questions given above. Try to determine the caller’s gender, race, and age, through his use of words as well as his accent. Listen carefully of the caller’s tone of voice and determine whether he is angry or excited, as well as whether the message is taped (the caller does not seem to respond to your questions). It is advisable to have your main phone possess with recording functions, so that you could provide a copy to authorities.

Do not pull fire alarms – As a precaution, do not pull the fire alarms and do not use cell phones as well. These devices may actually detonate the bomb.

Evacuate employees orderly – Inform all employees to leave the building in an orderly fashion, only informing them of the bomb threat once all of them are outside. Doing so avoids panic and disorganized evacuations, which may cause injuries and subsequent law suits.

Post security plan – Have the plan and procedures in response to bomb threats publicly posted on every workstation. This would help you to maintain order if you receive a threatening call.

Conduct drills – Practice your employees’ reaction by holding evacuation drills at least once a year.

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