An Unfortunate Reality….

We live in a new world. We live in a world where the threat of violence, protest and opposition has become a disheartening reality that we have to consider on a daily basis. It is sad and terrible; unfortunate and dangerous, but it isn’t something that we have to accept as inevitable and be unprepared for.

Have you taken the time to think about and plan for these types of events? What is your plan to clear your rides in the event of a bomb threat? What is your plan to clear the midway in the event of a large scale protest or flash mob? Have you met with your committees, the local authorities, and officials to understand their plans for barricades and crowd control? Do your plans overlap, mesh or are they opposing?

While it is difficult to imagine such events happening to you and your show, it is possible. It is because of that possibility that you now have to build your emergency event plan. If you have not built this plan, now is the time as you wind down your season to begin the process, so that this fall and next year you can hit the ground running. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
• Begin by making a list of the worst things (risks) that can happen to your midway.
• Discuss each potential risk and determine if you can do any of the following:
o Avoid or eliminate the risk.
Is the exposure to the risk necessary to your operations?
o Reduce the risk.
Can you train and educate your staff to recognize the potential risk and then avail them the skills to reduce the risk in the event of an occurrence?
Can things like a physical barrier, increased security or surveillance be used to reduce the risk or act as a deterrent?
Is the risk reduced through the integration and cooperation of civil authorities?
o Plan for managing through the risk.
Develop a plan to address how you and your staff will handle the risk.
Coordinate with each of your committees well in advance of your events.
Consult with other shows on how they would handle the risks that concern you.
Work with a consultant on Emergency Planning protocols.

I know that the thought of a crazy person driving a van down a midway, or having some lunatic open fire on your guests as they wait in line at the front ticket booth may seem ridiculous. Unfortunately, in today’s new reality, we have to consider the real possibility that such horrific events may actually occur. Knowing that I’d much rather be on the side of pro-activity and preparation, than ignorance.

Please take time with your management team and start asking the tough questions on how you would respond. It is much better to have a plan in place and never use it than have an event occur and find yourself without a plan.

Drew Tewksbury is the Director and Senior Vice President of McGowan Amusement Group. A NAARSO certified safety officer and ride inspector, Drew brings the Carnival Industry a refreshing new perspective on safety and insurance.

You can contact Drew at either 440-263-1882 or by email at

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