“Be prepared” is the motto event planners live or die by. Not only is the business all about ensuring every amazing detail’s in place before the show goes on, but it’s also about having the skill to proactively handle emergency situations.
Here are a few SOS resources you might want to keep close at hand or add to your speed dial:
Need to close down a street? Commandeer city parking? Require on-site emergency services such as paramedics and police? Toronto City Hall’s Event Support Unit is the one-stop shopping hub for event planners and producers. Connect here first for advice, permits and event applications. The site offers a comprehensive special events planning guide complete with requirements, key contacts, timelines and fees.
There’s no predicting the ailments that might strike an event, anything from a small scratch that’s easily attended to in an onsite first aid station to care of multiple incidences of heat stroke or transportation of a heart attack patient. Large events, especially, require a crew of medical professionals on-site. Reach out to the services of the city’s Emergency Medical Services or hire a private company such as Emergency Rescue EMS. Along with developing a customized emergency response plan pre-event, Emergency Rescue offers fully equipped on-site certified paramedic support as well as ready-made first aid kits.
In addition to its emergency response units, the Toronto Fire Services also works with events requiring road closures to ensure emergency access. It may also be wise for events and film location sites planning pyrotechnics or explosive special effects to call on firms such as 1st Unit Fire & Safety. The company, which has over 75 trained firefighters and paramedics on its roster and a fleet of pumper trucks and emergency vehicles, provides at-the-ready onsite crews for immediate response.
Where there’s a crowd, there’s a security risk. Safeguard your event, venue and guests with security officers by booking off-duty law-enforcement pros from the Toronto Police Service or engaging a private firm. Paladin Security is one of Canada’s largest security firms with locations across the country. Its event security roster includes sporting events such as the Grey Cup festival, trade shows and political conventions plus bodyguard and celebrity handling. A pre-event security audit assesses scope, audience demographics and more in matching need.
In Case Of …
Most event planning experts understand the need to insurance up. Even if you’re not the host, that doesn’t mean that as someone involved in organizing the event, you’re exempt from exposure in case something happens. There are several companies that specialize in event insurance including Pal Insurance Brokers Canada whose coverage ranges from single and multi-day events (with or without alcohol liability) and trade show exhibitor booth protection to wedding logistics insurance and event cancellation. If hosting a contest or golf tournament, you might want to consider looking into prize indemnity/hole-in-one insurance!
Be PR Smart
Every good event plan should include a crisis readiness strategy that lays out a blueprint for both an operational and communications approach to handling unexpected situations, says Daniel Tisch of Argyle Communications, a public relations firm that also specializes in crisis management. When a life, health or safety issue hits such as food poisoning at an event, the key is having a plan in place for immediate action that includes quickly crafting and approving messaging, knowing who is the lead communications spokesperson and ensuring post-crisis follow up to mitigate reputation damage.
Never mind the potential of dealing with a venue’s burst water pipes and leaking ceiling, but weather patterns of late have also upped the ante when it comes to the prudence of having a flood or disaster recovery specialist on speed dial. Remember last summer’s waterlogged conditions here and in Calgary? ServiceMaster Restore can help assess and reset the cycle to clean with 24/7 services and equipment to mitigate water, fire, wind and smoke damage.
Shine The Light
Extended power blackouts are becoming all too frequent, leaving everyone scrambling around in the dark. While major special event venues likely have standby power generators, it’s a good idea to also have a source handy. Firms such as Little Electric specialize in generator rentals and temporary power distribution for special events including festivals and trade shows. The company also offers mobile lighting towers and 24-hour emergency service throughout Ontario.