Less than two weeks ago, the world was shocked to learn that King of Pop Michael Jackson had died of apparent cardiac arrest. Today, the world remembered him as over 17,000 people gathered at Los Angeles' Staples Center and Nokia Theater for Jackson's memorial service.
After reflecting on this tragedy from a personal side, I started to think about how it relates to the professional lives of meeting planners. That brought me to the question, What would you do if you were faced with such a situation during an event? If someone were having a heart attack, an allergic reaction, or even had just tripped and hurt him or herself, would you be prepared to respond?
Some planners may have a response plan and procedure in place, ready to go for anything that could happen (good for you!). But many are likely equipped with just the bare minimum—maybe they have a first aid kit on hand, if that. For those planners, there's never been a better time to start preparing.
Here are 4 tips for making sure you're ready for an emergency at your event:
• Assess your venue. Does your event facility have a safety program in place? Who among the venue staff is trained in CPR? What is the emergency number of the venue? (Every facility's number is different, and it's not always 911.) During your site inspection, ask various venue employees—not just the salesperson, but also housekeeping, banquet staff, etc.—if they know the emergency procedures.
• Gather emergency information. Knowing ahead of time if your event attendees have any pre-existing medical conditions is extremely important, especially if you know that certain sessions or activities may pose a heightened risk. Even having a general knowledge of your attendee demographics, such as age, will be useful. You can easily find this out by asking custom pre-registration questions.
• Inform your staff. No matter how much or little they will be involved in the event, everyone member of your on-site staff should be aware of your emergency plan. Designate an emergency response team leader, and make sure every one knows his or her contact information.
• Educate your attendees. Provide emergency information to your attendees either in a pre-meeting email or on-site during the event. Inform them of your on-site contact for emergencies, the venue's emergency number, addresses of local hospitals, etc. Make sure this information is clear and highlighted—not just a small blurb on the event agenda or post-script of an email.
Have you ever dealt with an emergency, big or small, at an event? What advice can you share?