Journeys Into The Unknown – Planning and Preparing to Ensure Success

Any expedition into new territory or into demanding terrain needs to be approached carefully and with the appropriate amount of planning and preparation.

There are several issues to consider, including:

  • The physical abilities and experience of the team
  • The specialist equipment available to facilitate the achievement of the task
  • The external support available if problems arise

Preparing for Problems

Contingency planning needs to be robust and must identify the most likely and the most dangerous problems that might be encountered.

This is particularly crucial for the team undertaking the Willis Resilience Expedition in the Antarctic. In addition to the extreme weather conditions they face, the distances and terrains they will be covering will exert the highest amounts of physical and mental stress on both them and their equipment.

In addition, the team will be operating in relative logistic isolation from any external support and so they need to plan on being able to deal with most problems themselves.

This requires a lot of attention to detail and good administration; a solid daily routine of checks to ensure that equipment is properly maintained and a positive mentality to address issues promptly and as a team.

Simple but Serious

Something as simple as a broken zipper on a tent can quickly turn into a serious situation if not dealt with appropriately in such harsh conditions and so the team must know that they can depend on each other to identify a problem and can address it promptly and effectively.

Of course, things will break, so it is also essential to have appropriate supplies of spares—and also the appropriate skill sets within the group to fix equipment, should it require maintenance.

After all, the team must be able to maintain their equipment on their own if something goes wrong, as there will be no one else to help.

Rules for the Everyday

These same principles apply to any company taking the first steps into unfamiliar territory. They must be prepared for new challenges, such as working in a country with high crime rates or with a degree of political instability.

They also need to have properly analysed the situation they are putting themselves into and identified the risks they face before moving into that territory. This needs to be done appropriately and in good time.

If it’s a rushed job, things can go wrong far more quickly. It is likely that the ‘known’ or identified issues can be easily addressed whereas the ‘unknowns’ are always more challenging and therefore costly to deal with.

Everyone Needs a Hand Sometime

Of course, it helps to have an informed partner to advise you on the risks and to keep a watchful eye over you, providing guidance throughout the process and timely support in a crisis.

Our team in the Antarctic is in daily communication with us, keeping us up to date with the challenges they face and any problems they have.

The daily situation report (SITREP) that they send is a vital ‘life-signs’ check that ensures the Alert:24 team are situation-aware and can appropriately support the team on the ice.

This means the expedition team can concentrate on the task in hand knowing that they are being properly supported.


Guest blogger Gareth Bateman joined Alert:24, Willis’ security risk and crisis management practice in 2012 having served for 10 years as an officer in the British Army. Gareth has planned and led military expeditions all over the world including operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan and training exercises across Europe, the USA and Russia. Gareth now leads the 24/7 Crisis Support Team who provide assistance to corporate clients operating in risk territories around the world.


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