In the past 12-18 months, we have become all too aware that random acts of terror can occur in places that we least expect.
One of these incidents and perhaps the biggest and most devastating in terms of killed and injured; the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Just over two weeks ago, 58 people out to enjoy themselves were killed. A further 546 were injured in a gun attack that so far has no known motive.
Jeannette La, is a regular contributor to Exhibitors Only and is also a member of our Expert Panel. She was in Las Vegas with 30 colleagues, when the attack took place. As you might expect, the experience left a deep mark. Jeannette approached me saying she wanted to pass on lessons learnt from that night.
Hopefully, you will never need to put her advice into practice.
In these days, post the worst mass shooting in modern US history, like everyone else, I keep asking myself why?
I was in Las Vegas for a trade show, along with 30 people from my company. In those 65 minutes that it took me to confirm that no one I was travelling with was hurt, my heart fell into the pit of my stomach and my brain kicked into overdrive. All I could think of during those 65 minutes was, where is everyone and are they safe?
Until now, I never planned for a situation like this
In my career, I never thought I would need to put together a plan of action to be used or referred to in response to violent acts and certainly nothing on the scale of this horrific situation.
Later, when I had time to reflect and think about what happened, I wanted to ensure that I would be more organised and more able if, I was ever faced with something else like this again.
My hope is, that no one ever needs the advice that follows. But just in case, here are some things I wish I would have known or had ready.
1. Carry around a paper list of all the people who are travelling with you at all times
I know, paper? So old school, right? Well, when you’re on your mobile calling and texting colleagues and calling hotel rooms from the front desk phone at the same time, you’ll be glad you had a paper list to check and double check in front of you.
I was trying to call and text from both my mobile and front desk phone, while reconciling the staff list from my phone. It really slowed me down having to switch back and forth between calls/texts/excel sheets. But what if I have my laptop, you ask? Are you sure you’re going to have a good wifi connection when a disaster strikes? Are you sure your laptop is going to be charged enough?
In this case, I promise you, paper will not let you down. (I also find it helpful to include the hotel where they’re staying and their flight numbers so that you can have all of the logistics info handy.)
2. Leave a list of travellers with the office
Whether it be a team member not travelling with you to the event, an office manager, operations manager, leave a list of the event team back at base. Why? Not that I ever wish this on anyone, but what if something happens to you? Someone else should be able to help account for everyone else. Or if the local cell towers are overloaded, someone not in the area can start contacting the travellers in your group.
3. Start a social media or communication group with the travellers for the event
My team always has at least 1 whatsapp group. Granted, the real reason we have it is for coordinating where we’re going to meet for lunch and who wants what from Starbucks. However, that Sunday, that group was truly valuable because I was able to immediately reach 12 of my team members with one message.
4. Save everyone’s mobile number in your phone
Granted, this also comes in handy even in a non-emergency. However, in an emergency, it will be so much easier and faster to scroll through the contact list in your phone rather than tracking down each person’s phone number one by one.
5. Keep in touch with the event organisers after the incident
Follow the show organiser on social media. Have their app downloaded or talk to them in person if possible.
The event that we were attending, was able to continue the trade show and conference with a few small schedule changes. Granted, there was heightened security, but the show went on. If you are the event organizer, make sure that you update your exhibitors and attendees as and when you have a response plan for your event. This will give everyone a chance to decide what’s best for their teams once they know how the whole event is responding to whatever has occurred.
6. Remain calm
This is probably the most important thing. If you remain calm then most likely your team will also remain calm, thus making your job easier. This also helps should you need to deal with security, local law enforcement or others.
Las Vegas has always been a cornerstone to the convention and events community, so I hope that we will continue to safely gather there and continue the tradition of building relationships and furthering business.
My heart and thoughts go out to all of those affected by this senseless shooting. May this community and city always remain #VegasStrong.
Stay Safe Film
The police service has released the short public information film called ‘Stay Safe: Firearms and Weapons Attack’ which sets out the key options for keeping safe should the worst happen. You can watch the film on the National Police Chiefs’ Council YouTube account.