By Rene Tamayo
An Emergency Response Plan (ERP) for your event or event series is one of the most important processes to ensure your team is ready to keep your participants safe and alive on the event.
So, what is an ERP?
An ERP is an action taken in response to an unexpected and dangerous occurrence in an attempt to mitigate its impact on people or the environment. Emergency situations can range from natural disasters to hazardous materials problems and transportation incidents. Emergency response may refer to services provided by emergency and rescue service agencies, as well as the plans made and actions taken within an organization to respond to emergencies. ERPs are an important component of workplace safety.*
So what should you include in your event ERP?
1. A brief overview of the plan – Summarize your broad emergency protocols for the event, as well as a simple, bulleted “in case of an emergency…” section for easy reference. This can also be used to train your volunteers for the event as well as for use in other participant or volunteer communication.
2. Key event personnel with contact information – Include your producer or client, spokespeople, media relations partner, on-event leadership staff, local law enforcement as well as including your medical vendor or manager.
3. Event staff roster – Include a complete list of your entire on-event staff and what positon they will play on the team.
4. The medical team and support services – Provide a description of your medical team or the type of medical professionals or services you have scheduled for the event.
5. Command center operations – Create a list of command center operations, along with their protocols, that will be used to ensure that your event is safe for your participants. This can include directives for actions to be taken prior to the kick-off of the event. It would also provide information on how the command center or support team would assist the participants during inclement weather or in emergency situations.
6. Inclement weather plan – Begin to lay out your on-event relocation plans for inclement weather. Depending on the type of event or event series, you will need to decide what type of relocation plans you will need for your event (e.g., indoor area in case of lightning). When deciding to do an on-event relocation, what steps do you need to take to set the plan into action? Also, create on-event relocation plans for both the site and route areas of the event.
7. Medical heat plan – Prepare for potential extreme temperatures where appropriate such as high temperatures in the summer. Provide answers to these questions: How and what will you communicate pre-event to participants in case of severe heat? What participant cooling methods will you have available in case of severe heat? How will you be tracking the weather during the event? What factors will you be tracking to provide you and your team with the necessary information to make decisions regarding the weather. Although it is great to keep an eye on the air temperature, don’t forget to track the WBGT (wet bulb globe temperature) index, the relative humidity and the air quality. Be sure to provide a protocol on how and when to use these tools. In advance of the event, think through any additional tools or resources that will assist with managing the heat and your participants such as the WBGT index range and risk grid. Also consider specific event signage and the signage copy that you would use to communicate heat information to the participants while on the event.
8. Emergency scenario checklists – Prepare short and concise checklists that provide basic bullet points for the top emergency scenarios that could happen on your event.
- Fatality, serious injury or illness
- Bomb threat
- Fire or explosion
- Natural disaster
- Hazardous air quality
- Participant bad news from home
- Working with law enforcement
9. Emergency management and communication – A one page document that provides bullet points on how to communicate to specific audiences during an emergency situation, such as your participants and the public.
10. PR emergency communication plan – A one page document that specifically outlines the communication protocol for handling public relations matters during an emergency while on the event.
As I write this blog, I can’t help wondering (i.e., worrying) about what emergency or inclement weather scenarios my team and I will encounter on events this season. However, as much as we can plan and be prepared for many different types of emergency or inclement weather situations, we must accept that there are always situations or threats that we cannot predict. I truly believe that every emergency situation or inclement weather relocation is distinct in so many different ways. Which is why the quality and training of your team and your communication skills are critical. With that said, I know for a fact that I have gained fewer grey hairs over the past several years by having a complete and up-to-date ERP and knowing that we have thoroughly planned for as many types of emergencies as possible.
Rene Tamayo brings to the Event 360 team more than 12 years of experience in the event business. As the Event Execution Manager, he oversees all aspects of the event production including staffing, management and execution of the event series.