Media Team Security; Security Services Colombia 2020
Recently Black Mountain Solutions (BMS) provided Security & Safety Advisory and Logistical & Operational support for a recently published Netflix Documentary. The scope of the task entailed a BMS Safety & Security Consultant visiting high-risk locations within Colombia with the production crew, whilst advising on any safety & security issues and ensuring any communication & emergency management protocols were being adhered to.
For BMS, these types of tasks have been frequent across the region including both Colombia & Brazil.
More info can be seen: https://blackmountain-solutions.com/case-studies/
As in most industries there can be a wide spectrum of professions and it would be prudent to suggest that within the security industry, a Physical Security Consultant (for example) could be an expert in information technology or cyber security. Therefore, when BMS provides a consultant for a media team security type task, we endeavor to deploy a consultant with both expertise and soft skills.
How do we select Safety & Security Advisors in Colombia to support these types of tasks?
When selecting an advisor to support such tasks, Black Mountain see’s it paramount that the consultant:
Bears prior experience working in Colombia and/or other countries within Latin America (LATAM)
The consultant must understand that the security situation in LATAM is different to other regions across the globe. Whereas for example, the prominent threat for an international traveler to Iraq (as a stakeholder in an international coalition project) may be complexed attacks with the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) or roadside bombs, and that in Iraq & Africa armored vehicles and private security details is the normal security approach, however in Colombia in most cases this security approach does not apply.
In Colombia and other parts of LATAM, the common International traveler may just be a target for opportunistic crime. In which case the Iraq security approach may only draw unnecessary attention. Obviously as in all cases, client profile, agenda & risk appetite will dictate the most suitable security approach and risk mitigation methods. From our experience across the board in Latin America, Low profile is usually the best approach.
Understands the local Culture & Customs
Often these types of tasks involve engaging with stakeholders with different beliefs or traditions than our own or what one may be accustomed to. Knowing what’s accepted and what’s not in the local areas is key. In some cases by not portraying an understanding of the local customs can be seen as a lack of respect and risk irritating the locals or actors.
Speaks the Language
Not only from just a logistical perspective example simply asking the whereabouts of a nearest shop but for operational reasons too, employing conflict avoidance principles on the ground with potential threat actors or even coordinating with local emergency services, Police, Military etc. we can all see the importance of good communication skills on the ground.
From experience; An online language course nor university program is not sufficient training to be able to manage incidents (in a foreign language) whilst under duress. However, years of being immersed with the local population and working environment can hone those skills.
Can work under stress
We all understand that conducting table-top exercises in a relaxed environment is an essential component to ensure staff are well rehearsed with Emergency Response Procedures however when effectuated in an austere environment with the probability and risk of an undesired outcome can often make the situation more stressful. Consultants that can step back, take a deep breath and assess before making any rational decisions.
Fits in with the Media Crew
As mentioned previously, interaction with persons of interest with these types of assignments is frequent. Actors or stakeholders being interviewed or filmed, often due to their business, can feel uncomfortable with the presence of local military/police. By not appearing like the ex Police/Military stereotype and blending in with the production crew but whilst dynamically assessing risk can avoid unnecessary uncomfortable situations. Even supporting the crew and acting as a cameraman and dressing in the same attire can significantly reduce the chance of any unnecessary escalation.
Being flexible and able to adapt
Getting along with media crew team members and working as part of a team is an essential trait a consultant requires as preparation for these tasks can be lengthy and working long hours in remote and austere conditions is inevitable.
Often working in some parts of Latin America things don’t always go to plan as quite expected whether that be locals from a 3rd party on the ground changing plans, cancellations, no shows or even 3rd party drivers arriving late. A consultant must understand that sometimes these eventualities are part of the culture and at times unavoidable despite all efforts to reduce them.
Deserted Laboratory; remote area in Colombia.
How can Black Mountain Solutions support a Media Production company?
To date, BMS has provided the following services for media teams working in Latin America:
As with all Hostile Environment Media tasks, a detailed Pre-Deployment Risk Assessment should be conducted to identify any safety, security risks and legal complications. A robust Security plan put in place with communications & reporting protocols and emergency response plans including incident management & medical response. The plan should be practiced ensuring all stakeholders are familiar and competent.
It is recommended a Black Mountain Solutions Safety & Security consultant deployed with the media team to ensure the Security & safety plan is adhered to and to conduct dynamic risk assessments advising on the current situation and best practices.
To date we have supported media crews in the following areas:
BMS can support with:
Medical & Emergency Response Services
Hostile Environment & Awareness Training (HEAT)
Security Advisory & Consultancy
Operational & Logistical support
1. Freddie Ellis
Tel: +57 300 432 0647
2. Gordon Wells
Tel: +57 310 621 4485