Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, planning for emergency response has become important at many companies, including the company described here. "These events succeeded in heightening the awareness of business leaders that anything and everything is now possible. They see-as they have never seen before-that strong, proactive measures are required to protect their workers and, in turn, their businesses and reputations. … Amid chaos, death and unspeakable destruction, well-trained, prepared companies were able to quickly react, assessing the needs of their people and putting into place the plans they never wanted to need." (Blythe xiv, xv). Citing an earlier survey of Fortune 500 companies, Fink maintains that on the average, those corporations without a crisis management plan reported that after effects of the crisis lasted about two and a half times longer than was reported by companies that did have a plan. (Fink 67)

This article focuses on how an emergency response plan (ERP) was developed in a short time at The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), how it was implemented and then modified as exercises and actual responses to various incidents pointed out the need for changes. Sharing these experiences is aimed at providing ideas that readers may use in developing their own plans or in identifying areas in which their existing plans can be improved. Specifics of emergency response procedures and event specific guides are not discussed here.

The Company

DTCC, through its subsidiaries, provides clearance, settlement and information services for equities, corporate and municipal bonds, government and mortgage-backed securities and over-the-counter credit derivatives. DTCC's depository also provides custody and asset servicing for securities. In addition, DTCC is a leading processor of mutual funds and insurance transactions, linking funds and carriers with their distribution networks.

DTCC has operating facilities in multiple locations in the United States and overseas, with one location in downtown New York City - a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site. Approximately 3,000 DTCC employees were working on 19 floors in a high-rise building when the emergency response plan was first developed.

Lessons Learned from 9/11

Being relatively close to the World Trade Center site, the smoke clouds passed over DTCC's building, covering it and all the streets around it with layers of ashes and dust. Many DTCC employees experienced strong trauma, and the company was shut out of the building for several days.

On 9/11, DTCC's employees completed all critical business functions before they left. Noncritical employees had left the office during the day at various times. With conditions outside very bad, several employees actually turned around and returned to the building. Some of the passersby on the street also sought shelter in the building.

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