Protecting the ProtectorsBy Maria Behan | Posted 2011-01-28 Email Print
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Protecting the Protectors
Lax cites an incident that took place in rural India, several hours outside the city of Chennai (formerly Madras). “We heard about a particularly brutal rice mill where several families were being held to work against their will, so three of our field workers went out to investigate,” he says. “The mill owner detected our staff members and brought in a mob that started attacking them.”
Although IJM team members were trapped in their car, one was able to use a BlackBerry to contact IJM’s office in Chennai, which immediately e-mailed the case details to the organization’s headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area. “Our staff includes former FBI and DEA agents—people who have a lot of experience in these sorts of circumstances—and they used our network to communicate back and forth to come up with a strategy for getting local law enforcement involved,” Lax explains.
That particular incident ended happily: The headquarters team rallied support, and, as a result, the local police rescued IJM’s field team an hour or two after our team reported the trouble to the Chennai office. “Their car was totaled, but our workers were rescued,” Lax says. “When our team and the local authorities returned, the families being held at the mill were freed.”
That incident isn’t the only time that IJM’s network has saved clients and staff. “It’s something that happens regularly,” he adds. “Having fast and reliable e-mail communication makes a huge difference for the safety of our clients and our people in the field.”