Consumer Technology Association's recent Executive Board retreat experience during the Napa Valley wildfires caused them to update their crisis procedures after the emergency - here are some of the examples of lessons learned and what you can plan for via Meetings & Conventions. Have a clear understanding of the hotel's communication system in the event of an evacuation. Ask to speak with the hotel's security team during the contracting or planning stage to review the process of notifying guests of an emergency or evacuation. Include these plans in your crisis manual and share the information with the crisis team. The hotel should have a PA system - ask if it will operate when power is out. Have multiple hard copies of the room and attendee list printed before arriving on-site to check that all members of your group are accounted for during an evacuation. Set a meeting location within a safe but reasonable distance from the event venue. Inform all members of the crisis team of this location prior to the event and share a map. Direct your team to meet at this location in case of evacuation or if communication is down to determine next steps. Have an existing contract with a local transportation company or the hotel that outlines what to do during an evacuation when communication is down. The procedure should be activated as soon as an evacuation is initiated by local government. This plan could include:
Sending shuttles to evacuate staff, vulnerable attendees or the entire group;
Sending a car to the hotel for the event manager's use;
Contacting the event manager by radio to determine a plan of action.
Locate and note the nearest two-way radio before your event. Find out whether your venue has access to a two-way radio, which might require a license by the FCC. Two-way radio is a communications mode that does not rely on external power supplies or a physical communications infrastructure. This makes two-way radios a good communication mode during an emergency. Note emergency radio frequencies in your crisis plan (for example, 34.90 is used by the National Guard during emergencies). Update event attendees' emergency contacts. Loved ones might panic when trying to get in touch with attendees, so plan to notify each attendee's emergency contact (which should be a required field in the registration form) once communication is restored. This could be done via social media check-in once everyone is safe. Consider adding the following to standard shipment materials or request that your General Contractor, DMC or venue supply them for you while on-site:
First-aid kit with face masks for smoke, chemicals or smog;
Hand-crank radio with a siren and access to NOAA alerts (event managers should subscribe to local emergency alerts);
Flashlights, extra batteries and safety glow sticks for attendee use during a nighttime or tropical weather evacuation;
Pre-charged smartphone battery backup chargers and cords for charging.