Kenyon will set up a crisis line that people can call to register the missing and inquire about developments. They will provide family liaisons to translate the horror into something real but manageable, a familiar voice instead of a corporate speaking to them en masse through a megaphone.
They will set up the “dark side” of your website, where families can connect and receive real-time information, as well as a family support center where they can sit and wait, pray on the book of the religion of their choice, have access to mental health practitioners and hear announcements made in all the languages that need to be heard. Kenyon organizes trips for affected families and moves people from the most remote parts of the earth to where their loved one died, whether it requires a plane, a train or a horse and cart to take them from the deepest forest in Brazil. They secure accommodation, discreetly ensure that the hotel is not having a wedding with 400 guests at the same time as the plane crash press conference, and arrange staggered meals so grieving families don’t do not eat at the same time as vacationers.
They’ll organize the memorials: over a hundred years of disaster management experience (their first was in 1906, when a boat train skidded and crashed in Salisbury, England) means Kenyon knows that every disaster is different and how each culture deals with death and corpses is different; they know it is inappropriate to give roses to Japanese families to place on their dead – white chrysanthemums are preferred. Any practical issues that arise have already been considered and addressed, including the likelihood of the media falsifying IDs to sneak into the Family Help Center for tabloid scoops: in 2010, when Crash on Libyan Airport Runway Kills 103, Journalist Arrested for Doing It If the disaster is a fire, they will have already instructed the catering team to avoid grilled meat.
They’ve thought of everything you haven’t done and won’t do because you’re in the midst of a disaster and it probably hasn’t happened to you or your business before.
Mark Oliver, or “Mo” as everyone calls him, is 53 years old. If the police were to describe him, they would say he was of average height, medium build, bespectacled, with short gray hair, and groomed enough to be military. He wears a suit to work except when deployed on a disaster: there he will carry something from his go-bag which he keeps ready and waiting in the sprawling warehouse at the back of Kenyon’s office.
Mo joined Kenyon in 2014 and became Vice President of Operations in 2018. He is responsible for field operations, training and consulting, as well as managing the extensive roster of team members. Among the 2,000 people on Kenyon’s payroll are people who previously worked in aviation, grief and PTSD psychologists, firefighters, medical examiners, radiographers, former naval officers , police officers, detectives and a former commandant of New Scotland Yard. There are crisis management specialists, embalmers and undertakers, retired pilots, bomb disposal experts and an adviser to the Mayor of London. If you were building an apocalypse team, you could do worse than that. Add a surgeonfish and you’d probably survive with cockroaches and deep-sea fish.
Prior to all of this, Mo spent 30 years in the UK police service. As a senior investigator, he worked on homicides, organized crime, anti-corruption and counter-terrorism. Despite his serious role, he’s a prankster, that humor you find in the darkest places is present and factored into Mo. He has to be – the humor holds up, and here in Kenyon he wears a considerable load: we are in the same warehouse as thousands of items that once belonged to the tenants of Grenfell Tower, the burnt-out building that towered black and skeletal in west London until the authorities covered it with a giant tarp and hope we look away. No matter how far we are from the Grenfell Tower fire, June 14, 2017 still feels like a new wound. Seventy-two people died, seventy were injured and 223 people escaped from this fire which exposed the political and social failures of the system, high and low.