Category Archives: Corporate conferences

Event Management Tips: Planning for and Managing an Incident or Emergency On-Site During an Event

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In my last tip I outlined the importance of having a back-up plan when organising an event. In that post I reviewed the natural occurrences that can disrupt an event, such as adverse weather, and man-made concerns like bomb threats or terrorist activity.

In this blog I am going to discuss why it is important for Event Managers to plan for a major incident or emergency, especially in these days of terrorist attacks. It is the event manager’s responsibility to make sure all visitors and workers are not exposed to health and safety risks. This includes during the event and during the setup and takedown of the event for those who have access at those times.

The level of planning for an emergency will be dependent on the size and scale of the event as well as other factors including the degree of risk, the audience, the location of the event and its duration. A safety plan should be created that references all these aspects.

It is important to communicate all your plans with your employees and the events team during the planning. The plan should designate who is responsible for the various aspects of safety if an incident arises, as well as the communication paths and decision-making structure.

Good communication and liaison is important in order to share how risks will be controlled with the venue, management, emergency services and suppliers. It is also needed to communicate your prepared safety plan effectively.
This link gives an example of a guidance note for event organisers when producing an event emergency plan.

Planning for incidents and emergencies at an event

emergency excit

Planning for Event Staff:

  • Create an event handbook
  • Know your location – understand the threats
  • Check venue security provisions are in place
  • Instigate a direct line of reporting in an emergency
  • Make sure all staff have emergency phone numbers for both event staff, venue and emergency services stored in their mobile phone contacts
  • Make sure staff know the emergency exits and first aid points
  • Confirm staff next of kin and passport details are up to date
  • Carry some cash at all times as this may be needed in an emergency
  • Download CitizenAid app on mobile phone
  • Risk Assessment: Consider the key risks, both for staff and delegates, include contingency plans to deal with situations of limited impact as well as responses to more serious emergencies
  • Produce and share emergency procedures with your staff, as well as incorporating the venue’s emergency procedures. Ensure that all relevant staff members understand what they should do in the event of an emergency, no matter what their normal working role is, including raising the alarm. Identify to them the location of exits and emergency equipment. They should know from whom they should receive instructions etc.
  • Have a pre-event briefing with all staff, show the National Counter-terrorism office video Run Hide and Tell
  • Pre-event make sure you charge phones and battery packs
  • Have radios on back-up in case the network goes down
  • Be mindful of local staff who may be affected as the incident is occurring in their local area or city

The Emergency Plan

Met_Police_Response_Car

 

This should cover the following depending on the size and location of the event:

  • Mobilising onsite resources to attend and tackle the incident
  • Removing people from immediate danger
  • The management of any casualties including providing medical assistance
  • Raising the alarm and informing the public and telling staff what they need to do. It is worth having a code that you only use to tell staff there is an incident
  • Alerting and assisting emergency services
  • Incident control
  • Traffic management, including emergency vehicles
  • Controlling crowds and attendees including evacuation if safe to do so. If the incident is terrorist related you may need to instigate lock-down – follow instructions from the emergency services
  • Evacuation of disabled people and other vulnerable classes of people including children who may become separated from their parents. Plan for additional assistance requirements
  • Handing over to the emergency services where applicable
    Dealing with displaced and non-injured attendees; if in lock-down provide refreshments
  • Protecting property
  • Ensure that the plan is flexible to cope with changes in events
  • The plan for emergency situations should set out the overall framework for the initiation, management, co-ordination and control of personnel and assets in an emergency onsite

Emergency Procedures

  • Check all escape routes are available, well lit, unlocked and unobstructed
  • Appoint people to be responsible for implementing the emergency procedures in the event of an incident or emergency
  • Ensure that a clear management structure is place, identifying the key decision makers
  • Discuss plans with the police, fire and rescue service, the ambulance service, emergency planning and, for fixed premises such as stadiums and arenas, the venue management
  • Agree with the emergency services on issues such as access routes to the site, the use of any grid-referenced maps, rendezvous points, and transfer of authority for a major incident from the event organiser to the emergency services
  • Stopping the show/conference: Identify key people and initiate a show-stop procedure, communicate with presenters and attendees; have an agreed public announcement for this.
  • Evacuation – Remain calm and encourage attendees to keep calm. Work as a team. If evacuation is required direct people towards emergency exits
  • Lock-down: After stopping the conference or show direct people to a safe area within the building; explain to attendees why it is not safe to leave. Provide refreshments if required. Keep in contact with the police and emergency services regarding the situation
  • Review after the incident. If incident impact has been limited you may be able to start the show or event again. Only restart after consultation with emergency services. Make sure staff and services are ready and in position for the restart
    After an Incident
  • If evacuation proves necessary, make sure delegates are assembled in the correct holding area, check everyone is alright. Listen to emergency services for information about when to release attendees
  • If in lock down make sure attendees have refreshments, if in a hotel check whether bedrooms are available, work with the venue or hotel operations management
  • Only allow people to leave when instructed to do so by the emergency services
  • Assist delegates if they require accommodation, transportation, flights etc…
  • Have a debrief afterwards with events staff as well as venue see what went well and what can be improved upon.
  • Review incident and emergency plans for future events

Find out more
B2B Event Management Logistics Tips – Risk Assessment, Health and Safety, insurance and contingency planning

Health and Safety Executive and Excellent Government website on event safety and emergency procedures

Managing an event

Incidents and Emergencies

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Why it is so important to have a back-up plan when organising events, and how to deal with problems

Now that winter is here it has reminded me how important it is to have a back-up plan. Unforeseen circumstances can affect your event causing them not to run to order.

Along with risk assessment and health and safety is always advisable to have a plan B.  So many outside circumstances can affect your event.  It is also very important to make sure whatever event you are holding that you have the right kind of insurance cover which includes cancellation.  You should also have all the details of attendee emergency contact details and a detailed process for a disaster with line of management contacts and a plan for implementation.

  • Natural Problems -Weather is a factor outside of our control, especially if organising an outdoor event, you should always have an alternative plan in case the event cannot go ahead outside.
    • Snow can affect not just transportation of delegates getting to an event; it can delay speakers or key attendees attending.  Remember to consider the date and time of year you are holding your event. How probable is weather going to affect your event by blocked roads due to snow or heavy rain causing flooding.
    • Winter time can also be a time when people tend to get colds or flu.  Have a back-up if your key speaker is unable to attend.  You may have to change to another speaker or the order of the programme.
    • Heatwave – It is lovey to have sunshine for your event but too much heat can also be dangerous.  Make sure you have plenty of cover and shade, fans or air conditioning, plenty of water for people to drink.
    • Fire can also affect a venue or area, be aware of previous history of any of these events to the venue/location.
    • Drought can cause water shortages and some areas have to reduce the availability of water.  You may need to use bottled water instead of jugs of tap water for drinking.
    • Strong winds can affect power as well as transportation to an event and if you are holding an event outside you need to make sure all power cables and marquees and free-standing temporary buildings, posts, signage, fencing etc… are anchored.

 

  • Man Made Problems – A Strike this can affect the venue, staffing, and public transportation to an event.
  • Terrorism – if travelling abroad check with government websites regarding travelling to certain countries.
  • Politics – streets being closed due to protestors, check with local authorities and police as to what is being affected.
  • Power outage – hopefully this can be temporary but always check with venue what they do in the event of this happening do they have back-up generators?
  • Fire – At venue make sure that you are aware of all emergency exits and also the drill in where to meet should this occur.
  • Health – If required have a medical team and ambulance on site.  Ill health or food poisoning, check all food standards and certification, know where the nearest Dr Surgery, hospital etc…
  • Security – make sure that you have the right level of security in place whether it is security on access or if an exhibition make sure expensive equipment is secured.

On the whole most of the time the event will run according to plan, but the better prepared you are the better the outcome should the unexpected happen.

 

Corporate reasons for having a conference

Conferences-And-Meetings

There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, and events are an important part of the marketing mix.  Listed below are some marketing reasons for holding a conference or seminar that a company or organisation may use to promote.

Reasons for a conference could be:

  • A medium for passing on information, specifically for new products and services
  • Internal communication to employees regarding internal information, such as training, boosting morale, making announcements, launch a new culture
  • Used by associations to network and educate their members
  • Yearly or quarterly way to communicate with their sales force, partners or distributors
  • A forum for discussing world issues or topical subjects

An example of benefits for the business client to attend a software companies conference or seminar

  • Excellent communication forum for the end user, ability to meet senior managers from the corporation,  to get advise, discuss business propositions, get answers straight from the software engineers, product developers
  • Ability to fast track communications to the highest level
  • Good for the client to feel that they are having an impact on the future direction of the company and its products in relation to their requirements
  • Excellent for networking and meeting other users and hearing their business experiences, share ideas, solutions to problems
  • Good for education and increasing knowledge of the products and business environment
  • The event enables the attendee to build up a picture of the quality of the company products or services

Benefits from the Companies perspective

  • One of the marketing vehicles for increasing regular communications with both current, new and potential customer
  • A platform enabling the company to know the client better and understand their business needs for the portfolio of products and services that they are developing
  • Make the customer feel that they are being listened to and giving the company first hand research into the future product direction
  • Excellent PR opportunity to made customer feel important and build on loyalty and customer relationship by sponsoring a drinks reception and dinner
  • Good opportunity to get the TPV/Resellers involved promoting the companies products and making them more involved with the clients, as well as strengthening the business alliance
  • Opportunity to increase sales of products with users through workshops demonstrations
  • Event feedback should be measured against the objectives to understand the bench mark for the next event.  All events should be reviewed and measured to see if it has been a good marketing vehicle for ROI, and how to improve on future events.