Planning for Event  Emergencies

“Call an ambulance!” is a sentence that no event planner ever wants to hear. Yet, that is exactly what happens at more events than we would like! At an event that RNA Associates managed in the fall of 2022, an attendee went hypoglycemic on the trade show floor. Collapsed to the ground and nearly had a seizure. Through the quick actions of the RNA staff on the floor in coordination with the catering staff, the attendee was provided with juice and medical assistance was quickly available. These types of emergencies are par for the course in the events industry. If it’s not a medical situation, it’s a broken pipe drowning your trade show in gallons of water, or internet that slows down to a crawl due to high usage. Having a risk management plan in place is essential to the success of an event.

These are the types of situations that event planners are hired to plan for. Part of our job is to create a plan ahead of time, ensuring there are measures in place in case of event emergencies. Most of the time, however, it’s the quick problem solving in the moment that saves the day. We ensure effective communication with vendors and schedule regular walk throughs to catch problems before they arise.

When you’re putting together a preparedness plan, consider these elements:

  • Security – if there is a situation with an unruly or violent attendee, whose responsibility is it to handle it?
  • Medical emergencies – do you have someone on site to offer first aid until an ambulance arrives?
  • Situational event emergencies – do you have back up A/V equipment if something breaks? What is the plan if there is a broken pipe and the hall has to be evacuated?
  • Logistical issues – What if you run out of paper at registration? There’s no toilet paper in the bathroom? There’s no more food at the buffet? A vendor misunderstood the contract and doesn’t have staff or equipment on site to cover what is needed? Wifi unavailable for attendees?

We have had most if not all of these situations happen during our events, so plan for the worst because it just might happen! One of the largest Event Planning companies in the world has written their own thoughts on this subject, read on for another perspective!

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