In case of emergency… 5 things to know

14 Jun



What Would You Do?

WWYD if the unthinkable happens at your walk?  You plan plan plan all year ’round for the one day. The one day when thousands of walkers come to your event with good intentions for a great day supporting a cause they care about.  You have your spreadsheets and volunteers ready to rock. And then…

There are many things that are unpredictable – like Mutha Nature, toddlers with hard objects and ding-dongs with assault rifles.

Sadly, the Orlando shooting tragedy makes me once again think of what I would do to prepare for a similar situation at a walkathon.  I wrote about this four years ago and I’m sharing it again with hopes it can help someone.

The below was previously published in August, 2012.

The recent tragic events in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater made me think of how random, senseless actions can ruin lives.   Several hundred people were guests of a theater to watch a midnight premiere of a movie only to have it end violently 20 minutes into the show.

We all see the pre-movie instructions of where the emergency exits are located, and to walk, don’t run to them in case of emergency.

Those instructions on the screen are part of the theaters’ emergency plan.

What is your event emergency plan?   How will you handle things when the unthinkable happens?

If you have 50 or 50,000 guests (walkers) at your walkathon, how will you take care of them if a crisis happens?

I have managed events where crazy-crowd-control issues have arisen.   From angry bee swarms stinging moving objects to gang fights (knives included).  Public spaces invite public issues.

Your primary goal on event day is to take care of your guests.  Make sure the day is safe, fun, and SAFE.

If your peeps do not feel safe, and are not having fun – they may not return.

And we all know it costs more to find a new donor than to hold onto a current one.

Be ready to handle the unthinkable, so that the headlines in the paper the next day reflect your wonderful event instead of a logistical horror show.

Here are five tidbits (of many!)  to put on your radar as you prepare your emergency procedures

1.   Start by asking the owner (City? State?) of the event location what their evacuation plans are in case of emergency.  You do not want to supersede anything already in place.

2.   Meet with law enforcement (hired police detail) and first responders to determine how they will carry out the evacuation plan.

3.   Schedule a pre-event coordinator meeting (volunteers, staff, etc..) so everyone is aware of the emergency procedures and other logistical items.

4.   Determine who will talk to the press.  Messaging is important!

5.   Create a constituent communication plan so you can quickly post, tweet, text or call your team leaders to advise them.

Remember – this is just a part of a VERY long list.  These should get your thinking started.

If you have a good relationship with your walkers, then getting in touch with them should be easy.

Follow up with them to ensure they are OK, and advise how to go about sending in any remaining donations.

Take care of your Walkers, and they will take care of you and your organization.


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