Risk Management 101 with Jordan Atherton, 1st Global

By Jordan Atherton, CMP, July 18, 2019

With today’s headlines, risk management is on every event professional’s radar. The best way to take steps toward protecting your attendees in the case of emergency is to have a clear emergency management plan for each event you host. While creating a comprehensive risk management plan takes significant time and effort, there are a handful of steps you can immediately implement into your existing events to help get you started.

  1. Hire local PD.

The knowledge and training a law enforcement officer can provide on-site during an event is unmatched. At a minimum, the presence of law enforcement deters crime. On a higher level, these professionals have the authority and access to implement immediate action as needed. Their training ranges from basic community outreach to complex life-threatening situations.

Depending on where you are hosting your event, city police response times can greatly vary depending on location; according to one of the FBI’s latest active shooter reports, nearly 70% of active shooter situations ended in 5 minutes or less. Having immediate on-site access to law enforcement professionals can save crucial time in emergency situations.

Quick Tip: Your venue may already have an existing relationship with the local police department and can quickly put you in contact with the right person. Some venues will even add this to your final bill which streamlines the entire process.

  1. Collect emergency contact information (and actually have it readily available).

If you aren’t already, you need to ask for every attendee’s emergency contact information. This can easily be incorporated into your existing intake or registration process with no added costs. So, if the worst-case scenario strikes, at minimum you have the needed contact information to either reach out to individuals directly or send mass communication updates.

Quick Tip: Be sure to clarify that the emergency contact provided needs to be someone who is not attending with the attendee. In most cases, a spouse is the default emergency contact, so it’s important to obtain a separate emergency contact.

  1. Partner with your venue.

There is a good chance that your venue has already done some of the heavy lifting for you. Ask your venue contact about existing risk management or emergency procedures already in place. This can give you a good starting point and ensures that you are not creating a separate risk management plan that may conflict with existing policies.

Quick Tip: Don’t be surprised if you receive some pushback or if certain information is not readily shared. Most venues know that emergency protocols in the wrong hands can do serious damage. The best way to navigate the conversation is to approach your venue with targeted, specific questions rather than cart blanche information. A few important questions to consider:

  • Do they have a crisis/emergency plan in place?
  • As a planner, who is my main point of contact on-site during an emergency?
  • How will I be notified of an emergency?
  • Where are your evacuation meeting locations?
  • Where are fire extinguishers, first aid kits and automatic electronic defibrillators (AEDs) located on-site?

Nothing can take the place of a comprehensive risk management plan; however, these small steps should get you thinking on different ways to better prepare for emergencies. If your team does not currently have a risk management plan, it is worth the time and energy to create one. Getting started can be a bit overwhelming, but there are resources available to you to make it an easier process. Here are just a few to get you started:

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Author bio: Jordan Atherton, CMP, is a senior advisor and meeting and event planner at 1st Global, where she is responsible for the planning and execution of all external education meetings and special events, with a primary focus on the company’s largest annual event, National Conference. She began her career at 1st Global in 2013 and previously held the position of event coordinator prior to her recent promotion. She plays an integral role for the company through event design and plan formulation, event oversight, vendor and venue contract negotiations and management, and site selection for meetings and event.

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