Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, evacuating civilians has been extremely complex. While many want to leave the country, finding safe avenues to exit has been a challenge.
During this difficult time, a client reached out to RMI about extracting some employees from Ukraine. Our risk management team coordinated with local teams in Poland and Ukraine to safely extract multiple employees on two missions. It was our privilege to help a client that was so devoted to keeping its employees safe.
We faced many challenges during these two missions but were able to successfully overcome them.
Challenge 1: Finding Employees in Hiding
Coordinating with employees hiding in Kyiv and other cities was complicated by restricted access and curfews. Many employees were in hiding, so it was difficult to find each person and establish communication.
Our initial goal on the first mission was to extract everyone on the client’s list. But some of these people were unwilling to leave because they were determined to stay and fight or because they didn’t wish to leave the country they loved.
Challenge 2: Establishing Trust and Communication
Most employees had never been in a warzone before. They were unfamiliar with extraction procedures and scared that it may be a trap. They often did not pick up the phone because they were afraid to answer it. It took some time to ensure a safe and trustworthy interaction between the extraction coordinator and refugees.
Challenge 3: Adapting to Changing Conditions
On the first mission, our goal was to get the employees being extracted to a Polish border crossing. Unfortunately, border crossings often close, so we had to shift our extraction plans. On the first mission, we changed our route and logistical support in the middle of the mission so that we could get to an open border crossing.
The most significant challenge was to communicate the border crossing change to the convoy security team that was moving towards the border. The convoy had limited communications, and we had to use all means necessary to ensure the message was passed and well understood. We also had to ensure we sent clearly marked rendezvous points with the new coordinates and pictures of local landmarks to guide them.
On the second mission, we had different challenges. The employee requesting extraction wished to go to Hungary instead of Poland. We adapted to her preference on route, and she was safely extracted to the city of her choice.
Keys to Success
RMI’s success in these missions was made possible by an excellent team on the ground. The professional ex-military personnel that entered Ukraine and conducted the extraction were remarkable.
Another important element in achieving success was the team’s adaptability. Despite changing the preferred border crossing, we were able to get the client’s employees through the border crossing in under an hour. That is impressive considering that most people evacuating Ukraine waited eight hours to cross the border. After the rapid and high-pressure extraction, we were anxious to avoid delays.
With an exceptional team on the ground, RMI risk management was able to meet our client’s needs and move people into a safe location despite many challenges.
To better understand how to improve your employee’s security in challenging situations, contact us.