“Erica Brown called 911 for two days before a helicopter finally spotted her, trapped in her Houston home with her 7-month-old son and three other children. Sometimes when she called, she got nothing, just a busy signal, and a disconnection. Multiple times she was told that they'd try to send help. Hours would go by with no rescue,” writes Rebecca Hersher in her recent NPR article entitled “You Only Get One Life In This World': Voices From Houston's Convention Center.”
According to Hersher’s article, “The family spent two nights in their trailer watching the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise up the foundation. ‘It was a hard feeling because I thought me and my kids were going to lose our life in this hurricane disaster."
“On Tuesday around 11 a.m., a rescue team finally came,” Hersher writes.
"The helicopter came over my house, and I heard him, and he saw me waving the white shirt. And he came on down, and he got us in the basket and pulled us up. They had to go two-by-two in the basket. She sent her two oldest girls, a third-grader and a first-grader, up first with a small suitcase of clothes,” says Brown, 29, in the NPR piece.
Hersher continues, “When the basket came back down, she lifted her kindergartner in ahead of her and then carried her infant son. It was still raining.”
“Brown and her family are now among the estimated 9,000 people at the downtown George R. Brown Convention Center, where officials said they had been expecting about 5,000. Outside on Tuesday, the scene is chaotic, with police, Red Cross volunteers and National Guard members patting people down, directing traffic and trying to help new arrivals and people dropping off donations,” according to the article.
It’s a great feeling to learn of proactive operations like George R. Brown Convention Center taking action to help those in need.
But, before we continue we’d like to share this message:
Each and every one of us at ISS 24/7 would like to extend our prayers and condolences to the families affected by Hurricane Harvey, and the relatives of the victims taken by this ongoing disaster.
Now whether your property is StormReady or not, we believe we can offer some best practices for protecting your property (and community) the event that adverse weather hits.
Keep reading; we’re going to share quick, actionable ways to counter the effects of inclement weather.
Best Practices for Adverse Weather Safety
Below are our recommended steps for managing the impact of severe weather on your property (and your community).
It’s time to keep the tens, hundreds, and thousands of people you’re charged with protecting safe.
Whether you have guidelines in place already, are looking for a benchmark to get started, or plan to become StormReady, you must anticipate these threats.
Here are some ways to be ready for adverse weather threatening your property, and the people you protect:
A Policy for Event Day
- Upon determining that weather conditions will threaten the safety of patrons and participants at an event, your Command Post operator will contact the Manager on Duty (MOD) and the Incident Management Team and the Event Promoter (that is, if time permits) to advise accordingly.
- The Command Post will inform the police department and event security to prepare to assist patrons to move under shelter or to evacuate.
Move People to Shelter
- A public announcement will inform the patrons of the threatening situation and their option to leave the property.
- Patrons will be advised of safe areas to seek shelter on the property should such areas be available.
An Evacuation Order
A public service announcement (PSA) will notify patrons that a report of pending weather problems requires the event be canceled.
- Upon notice of evacuation, all security, ushers, maintenance, police, and fire rescue personnel shall go to their assigned evacuation posts.
- All food and merchandise vendors shall close their stands, secure their inventory and lock their cash drawers. Upon stand closure, all vendors shall exit the property to a particular location and assemble for headcount.
Relocate Personnel to Property Gates
- Proceed to assigned gates as if the event were about to end, and open the gates. If a gate key is not available, one can be obtained from the event staff supervisor.
- Ensure that all gates are open. All turnstiles should be closed.
- Direct patrons out of the property and make sure that patrons do not re-enter the property.
Personnel on the Concourse
- Position themselves near each exit from the seating areas as if the event were about to end, and assist in directing patrons out of the property to the closest exit as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- Upon being relieved, reassemble with the supervisor at a particular location for headcount. Attendance will be taken.
Personnel at Ramps and Elevators
- Position themselves at each exit to the ramps as if the event were about to end, and assist in directing patrons out of the property as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- Calmly advise exiting patrons that the escalators will not be working during an evacuation. The ramps must be used.
Seating Area Personnel
- Respond to the front of your section as if the event has ended.
- Direct the patrons out of their seating area toward the nearest exit as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- Assist the physically challenged.
- Advise any physically challenged in your area that in the case of an evacuation, the elevators will not be in service.
On-Field Event and Security Personnel
- Assist the police department with escorting officials from the field.
- Secure all playing field entrances to the ground level tunnel.
- Ensure that no one is allowed to re-enter the game/event except authorized personnel.
- Upon all the staff and officials exiting the property, and being relieved, reassemble with your supervisor for headcount.
- Parking operations should prepare to open all exit gates as if the event has ended.
- Parking operations should stand by for directives from the command post concerning blocking off the gate(s) and sections of the property perimeter road for use by emergency vehicles.
- Upon all vehicles leaving the property, parking operations will reassemble with supervisors for headcount.
Now, the weather passes your property. Puddles will most likely remain, right?
This scenario means incidents such as wet spills can occur. These can quickly escalate to major medical issues, starting with a slip & fall.
You need to trust that your team handles the aftermath appropriately. Train them well to keep your patrons (and themselves) safe.
Train Proactive Staff
Train your team to execute these adverse weather methods. They’ve got to be ready for anything!
So, set your team up for success.
Develop their knowledge of your property’s guidelines.
Show them how to mitigate incidents that stem from the after-effects of severe weather. Be the proactive leader they need.
Use tabletop exercises to run real-life practice scenarios using the methods above. Do it while asking and answering these seven questions:
- Do employees have the aptitude to be proactive rather than reactive in any critical situation?
- Can employees identify potential hazards before they occur?
- Who do they communicate with first when an incident such as a slip and fall occurs?
- How do they handle a scenario where someone is injured during an evacuation?
- Does your team know how to use your incident management mobile app to follow protocols to handle?
- Can your team communicate with the command center and others effectively?
- How efficiently can they report an incident using your mobile app?
Deliver the safest experience. Practice like everyone’s life depends on it because it just might one of these days.
Leverage Your Incident Management System
Training your employees on the procedures above is a good practice. But, don’t rely on them to recall every aspect of training.
Certain types of situations don’t always happen, which means they’ll likely forget how to perform when the times comes.
You need everything communicated effectively.
You also need your team to execute these protocols efficiently.
Put the right incident management infrastructure in place to get real-time data. Have communication throughout all your departments.
Real-time communication is the only way to receive real-time data. It’s especially important during severe weather.
You must eliminate poor communication and how it affects the safety of your patrons.
So, how do you accomplish this?
An Incident management system (IMS) helps your team communicate and understand the information needed during weather-related events.
Augment With Incident Management Mobile Apps
Don’t stop at your IMS.
Enhance your system with incident management mobile apps.
These apps will help your command center communicate protocols efficiently.
- Frontline staff can report incidents in seconds.
- Have all the associated event information in your system.
- The information will be transmitted to your entire team with a couple of clicks of a button.
- Mobile staff can communicate on the fly with command center personnel.
What does all of this help you achieve? Faster response times.
Everyone is being notified simultaneously and without communication bottlenecks.
The system captures all of the actions associated with an incident. Then, it communicates proper protocols to your teams.
Let’s say that a high priority incident occurs as a result of your most recent evacuation.
Your staff doesn’t hesitate with an implemented system.
- All need-to-know information populates on mobile devices.
- Your team takes action.
- They mitigate the incident and your evacuation proceeds.
How professional does your team look? We think you know the answer.
This ability is Proactive Operations.
Do you see how having all of the following safeguards in place can help you prepare your property for unfavorable weather?
- Methods for managing weather-related scenarios
- Trained and high-performing employees
- Incident management system to synchronize efforts
- Incident management mobile apps to boost team efficiency
Preparation like this is how you keep your patrons, property, and community safe during events and any other time you’re needed.
Over to You
Hurricane Harvey is still on its destructive path, and while we may not be able to do much, we offer these guidelines to you for consideration.
You don’t know when the adverse weather will hit your property. But, taking the time to prepare now will ensure the safety of your patrons when the time comes.