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First Do No Harm...

Posted on January 18, 2007

Having recently executed an event in


at the House of Harley, I asked the onsite event sales account executive if she would please provide the location, phone numbers and response times for both fire and police along with their average response times to their location.  Additionally who, if any, additional staff at the site were CPR or First Aid Certified by a bona fide organization such as the Red Cross or the local fire department.  Are you a card carrying member and do you practice CPR periodically to remember the protocol?

The event with only 40 or so attendees had a five page policy and procedure document given to each team lead to read, review, contribute to and share with their staff so we were all on the same safety/risk management page.  For anyone who has heard either Joan Eisenstodt or Julia Rutherford Silvers, CSEP speak on the topic of risk management, one would NEVER attempt to even venture out of bed, or at the best their home, much less attempt to coordinate a meeting or event!  But life must go on and so much the show….

Are we doing all we can to ensure the safety of not just our attendees, but our team members of staff and strategic partners as well?  Are we engaging them in the active process of planning and GAP analysis to see if we’ve missed anything?  It might sound silly, but I sincerely believe that each planner has equal responsibility in assuming a Hippocratic Oath to “first do no harm”.  It’s always better to be safe vs. sorry.  What say you?

Have you any experiences good, bad or ugly you’d like to share? 


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Mark McCulley, CMP

Good on you for asking for the information and then giving it to your staff. We routinely ask for this information during site selection and contract negotiation, and wouldn't go forward with a venue that didn't immediately provide it.
So, in what format did you provide direction to the staff? Was it a reiteration of what you got from the venue, or a set of SOPs for different scenarios? How did you break it down? What info did you provide to the attendees? I'm curious.
Keep up the good work!

Gloria Nelson, CSEP

Mark, thank you for the kind words. Like you, we asked the head of Security for the information to give our team members and developed an SOP within the overall Policies and Procedures. I advised the client in writing this information should be made available for the attendees in the "housekeeping announcements" to the attendees either from the stage or as a VOG insertion. Since we did not have script writing responsibility in our contract and did bring it to the attention of the client and had it verified in writing as them having waived their due diligence with them brushing it off with a "we'll take care of it" (they refused to make any announcements thinking them tacky), we were documented on paper.

Left to our own devices, i.e. was responsible for production on a pharma meeting last week in Eli's backyard, we have more control. Since I was producer and writing the script for the client on intro's, etc., I included this under VOG announcements and had the client initial the verbiage as an acceptance to address from behind the curtain like the Great Oz. General announcements will vary, dependent upon the venue and means of exit and site safety/security policies.

We typically provide a warm welcome first, then announcements about all phones and "other communication devices" being turned off or put on silent mode (for myself, my phone must remain on with a disabled spouse and a potential 911 call), any other pertinent program changes in breakouts and then the overall evacuation announcement in "please familiarize yourself with the exit signs located in the general session room in case of emergency. Please also make certain you read and become familiar with the Safety and Security inserts in your registration packet. This was missing from the last meeting entirely. While I was not the meeting planner on the assignment, I inquired at our precon meeting and the planner said, "Great thinking....we also need a Docs in a Box" and that came through via the CSM quickly and was inserted in every attendee packet. Bringing attention to it showed due diligence and then the responsibility shifted (I would think) to the attendee to read and understand.

Since each venue and event is different, as is each client and their perception on safety, we must always do our best to ensure the safety of attendees. We actually have what I call a "We can fire you clause" in our contract. Items such as non-compliance when it comes to safety and compromising us and heaping hot coals of liability on our heads can be emphasized that we can "bail" if need be if they compromise the program. This goes hand in hand with inclusion as SOP in timelines from your site and another line with production of copies to include in your registration packets.

I hope this helps, Mark. Thanks for taking safety and risk management so seriously.

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