Winter is coming. Dr. Kevin Kloesel, university meteorologist, Oklahoma University, emphasizes the importance of now-casting rather than forecasting when it comes to emergency planning. “You can’t wait until the last minute. Seconds matter,” he says.
Kloesel cites one of the most notable stage collapses, which happened at the Indiana State Fair during a Sugarland concert as an example of why meeting professionals should work with meteorologist when planning outdoor events. “That one [Indiana’s Sugarland concert] had seven fatalities and the event had $50 million in legalities prompted from the stage collapse,” he says.
Because of incidents like this, meteorologists are now playing a vital part of planning outdoor concerts and events in order to prevent such tragedies. Kloesel now teaches event planners the importance of having an action plan and a protocol for initiating action. The Event Safety Alliance (ESA) regularly teaches workshops on event safety, including one especially designed for event planners.
When it comes to weather, today’s event planners can no longer rely on “luck.” Having an effective and executable severe weather action plan is quickly becoming an industry expectation and a legal duty of care. One of ESA’s goals is to help organizations develop emergency plans so event planners know when to “pull the plug.”
ESA’s annual Event Safety Summit, developed specifically for event planners, covers such topics as developing integrated show safety programs, key elements of safe temporary structures, severe weather contingency planning, emergency communications and evacuation, real-world risk management at live events, event medical care, violence mitigation, recognition and response and safety in the burgeoning international marketplace.
At the ESA’s website, you can learn about upcoming conferences or purchase an Event Safety Guide ($24.95) that includes emergency planning, weather preparedness and fire safety, as well as specific technical issues such as pyrotechnics, rigging, and temporary staging. Included appendixes provide additional resources, including helpful planning checklists and information on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS).
Four top suggestions from ESA:
- Develop an emergency plan involving as many internal stakeholders as possible in planning emergency procedures, both as a means to build rapport and to identify weaknesses in your plans.
- Remember the importance of employee training and rehearsals to ensure all stakeholders understand their role in any response and are confident in their ability to execute it.
- Your plans should be as simple and flexible as possible. Emergencies don’t follow a script—your plan should not force you to, either.
- Develop a weather matrix that not only covers the threat and alert method, but has a plan for specific areas (stage, festival, LED screens, audio, lights, power, etc.) with a specific retreat plan for shelter by area.
Also check out Event Safety Insights, which offers a quarterly trade publication produced by the ESA that provides readers with the latest safety-related news, features, practices and technology from across the live event industry.