Are you and your team ready to face an emergency evacuation of your Fairgrounds during Fair? And what if something happened during a non-Fairtime event? Have you reviewed your emergency evacuation plan lately? Is it fairtime specific or can it also be used at any time? Do you conduct “emergency scenarios” on a regular basis as a training exercise for your team? Do you know what your emergency plan is? If you have had staff changes, is your emergency/evacuation plan up to date? Do your Board of Directors know what their role is if an emergency was to occur on your fairgrounds? Who is authorized to speak to media during an event? …………. and the list goes on!.

These are all very important questions to ask of yourself and your organization.  Take some time to develop an emergency action plan/emergency response plan/…..whatever you choose to call it. Make sure it exists and that your team and Board of Directors know what their roles area during an emergency, and…..practice! You can never practice enough!

The public’s expectation when they step onto your fairgrounds is that they will be safe. While no one can predict every type of scenario, make sure your team is prepared to communicate if an emergency were to occur on your fairgrounds.

Here are some items to include in your emergency plan:

  1. Identify who can initiate the emergency plan. If you have a small team, it may seem obvious who will make the decision, but this should be written down. During your Fair, this decision making responsibility may change to law enforcement.
  2. If the situation requires outside resources, such as first aid or law enforcement then call 911 or  call your on-site emergency number.
  3. Names, positions and cell phone numbers of your Management Team.
  4. The location of where the Incident Command Center will be. This could be your administration office board room, or the office that your security personnel are during the fair. Having identified a couple alternative locations is important in the event that your primary location isn’t available.
  5. Regrouping Area – This would be the location that all employees would report to in the event that all buildings and structures are damaged. There should be a primary and secondary regrouping area in the event that the primary regrouping area is unavailable or unaccessible.
  6. Responsibilities and Actions of managers and supervisors – If first responders are called in, they will take action immediately and will manage the incident. Your role is to assist the first responders if asked, but more importantly to take care of your team and the public.
    • Management Team – meet in the designated area to access incident and notify their supervisors of the incident via cell phone, land line, radio or in person if unable to reach their staff.
    • Supervisors – report to their work station unless they are involved in the incident. If necessary, evacuate their work area and insure that all their employees are accounted for.
    • Employees – assist in directing patrons to the nearest exit or to safe areas away from the incident. Employees may be asked to assist first responders as well. After completing their tasks, then they will report to the regrouping area.
    • Human Resources – make sure to have an up to date list of which employees are working that day. This list will be used to verify the employee’s presence at the regrouping area.
  7. Media – make sure to have a media protocol in place. This will identify who is authorized to speak on behalf of the organization. First responders will have their public information officer (PIO) on site or will be communicating with them if they are offsite. It’s important that the Fair’s media spokesperson work with the PIO’s to insure a consistent message.
  8. Evacuation – identify who has the authority to make the decision to evacuate. If first responders are involved, the decision is theirs. If no first responders are on site, the CEO/Management team will most likely make the decision. It is possible that the on-site Supervisor will also have to make the decision.
  9. List of local emergency contacts – law enforcement (sheriff and police), fire department, private security if present
  10. Note that 911 should be used ONLY in the event of an immediate life threatening crisis or emergency.
  11. Regional Disaster – your fairgrounds may be designated as a disaster relief center for the Office of Emergency Services. Make sure you have spoken with those in your area to learn their protocol and their expectations as well as your’s during a regional disaster.

Most important of all, don’t let an incident be the first time you interact with first responders in your area. Set up regular meetings (annual/quarterly) to meet and discuss and review emergency planning procedures. Staff changes with first responders just like our fair staff changes. It’s important to know each other before an incident.

Taking the steps above will help you and your organization be prepared when that emergency or incident does arise.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, How to Plan Pay For and Put On a Wildly Successful Fair click here.