When disaster hits, executive protection goes beyond the C-suite to family and associates

Executive protection is often believed to be a service for C-suite executives, but a quality program can be scaled in a moment’s notice to mitigate risks for a principal’s family and close associates as well.


The challenge: Devastating wildfire, hurricane-level winds, and a stranded family member

The wife of our client, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, was staying at a hotel that suddenly came under siege by one of the most destructive wildfires in California’s history. The blaze eventually burned 36,810 acres, 2,843 structures, 2,800 homes, and claimed at least 22 lives in California’s beautiful wine country.

The Tubbs Fire started around 9:45 pm on Oct. 8, 2017 in Calistoga, California. By 1 am on Oct. 9, the fire had spread to Santa Rosa, where our client’s wife was staying at a high-end hotel. Sonoma County officials called for an evacuation of Santa Rosa at 1:30 am.

At 2 am, our Operations Center received a call from our client’s security team requesting the evacuation of the CEO’s wife. She had left the hotel, leaving her personal belongings behind, and was safe, for the moment, at a friend’s house. At the same time, whipped by near hurricane-level winds, flames were now crossing Highway 101, the main roadway in the area.


The solution: 24/7 availability and teamwork

When our operations specialist received the call at 2 am, he alerted his duty manager who relied on his five years of experience and our network to execute the evacuation quickly.

The wildfire’s rapid and unpredictable spread required careful coordination between the duty manager, our local partner in the Sonoma County area, and the Fortune 500 company’s security team.


The results: A successful ending to a long and frightening night

Our solution allowed the principal to focus on the event without worrying about how he would be available to address any urgent business or family needs. This allowed him to focus on the event, make important connections, and have a successful conference – all while staying accessible to his headquarters and family.

Allied Universal® Executive Protection & Intelligence Services security driver navigated through smoke-choked roads and rerouted through several detours to arrive at the wife’s friend’s home by 4 am. She was delivered safely an hour and a half later to the Oakland airport, 70 miles south, where the company jet was waiting to fly her safely home.

By 4:30 am, the winds in the Santa Rosa area reached their peak speed of more than 60 miles per hour. The high-end hotel burned down. The Tubbs Fire was not 100% contained until Oct. 31, 2017.