Creating an Emergency Response Guide for Your Fairgrounds 

McGowan Emergency Response Guide

A little rain dampens fun at the fair, but severe weather can bring flash flooding, large hail, or damaging high wind conditions that cause emergency situations. Because weather and emergencies are unpredictable, creating a well-thought-out emergency response guide is the best way to get through them and minimize potential losses. 

What is an emergency response guide?

Emergency response guides are different for every business depending on certain variables. Individual plans should be tailored specifically to the company, its location within the community, and the risks associated with the site and business operations. The guide should be comprehensive and provide details for addressing every possible emergency.

At a minimum, the emergency response plan will provide guidance for natural disaster and weather-related events, medical emergencies, mechanical or technology failures, civil disorder, and transportation-related issues. 

For organizational purposes, create a table of contents for the guide to help users find the specifics about different emergency scenarios that may arise. Include emergency contacts, fairground maps, and carefully defined instructions. The plan should align with fairground uses, operational requirements, and geographic features of your location. Once established, the guide can be reviewed and adjusted as necessary to cover different events during the year. 

Below is an outline of the primary considerations and steps to take when creating an emergency response guide for your fairgrounds. 

Integrate at the Local Level 

Emergency plans for a fair, exhibition, or other events held at your fairground should fit into the emergency system established by local authorities. For example, if the fairground’s evacuation plan conflicts with the city’s or county’s plan, you may risk public safety when issuing evacuation orders. 

Likewise, a local jurisdiction’s emergency plan might call for use of the fairgrounds and its facilities in some situations. If the plan does not address how the response would move forward when the fairgrounds are in use, it can create a highly problematic situation. 

Fairgrounds are often referenced in local emergency plans as staging areas because they typically have fences, large open spaces, and multi-purpose buildings. These features make fairgrounds ideal operational bases, but only if the local emergency planners and fairground leadership work together. 

Collaborate When Drafting Your Fairground Emergency Plan 

Collaboration is critical when creating your emergency response guide. Your organization should establish open lines of communication with local authorities responsible for human health, animal health and welfare, law enforcement, public safety, environmental concerns, and other entities relevant during emergency situations. In addition, vendors and exhibitors may have unique concerns to consider when building your plan. And because emergencies often involve injury or economic loss, legal and insurance implications must be addressed, too.

Create a Comprehensive Emergency Contact List 

After identifying potential risks and considering all collaborators, you’ll want to create a comprehensive emergency contact list for your fairground. First, contact your local fire department, police department, and emergency medical services to determine anticipated response times. Each organization should be familiar with the fairground location and potential hazards and align their capabilities with requirements for stabilizing an emergency. At a minimum, contacts on your list should include: 

  • Ambulance Services 
  • Building Manager/Director 
  • Fire Department 
  • Police Department 
  • Hospitals 
  • Utility Companies (Electric, Water, Gas) 
  • Local Government Agencies 

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Create Egress Plans and Evacuation Routes 

An egress plan is a detailed fairgrounds and facilities map showing emergency routes, evacuation paths, and red exit signs leading to stairs and doorways. In an emergency, police, fire, and medical personnel rely on accurate egress plans to identify the best ways to enter a building to get to a threat quickly, safely, and efficiently. 

Your fairground emergency plan should include egress plans for every building and facility on the property and the entire grounds, identifying paths, exits, and other critical emergency information. 

Emergency Communications 

Your emergency communication section will outline how internal and external information will be handled. Internal communication alerts may be sent via email, using paging systems, voice messages, or text messages. These channels instruct personnel about evacuating a building or area and relocating to assembly points. You can also send status updates and notifications of when it’s safe to return. 

Train and Educate Internal Personnel 

Ideally, a group of key staff members and volunteers will have helped develop the emergency plan, and as a result, be familiar with its content and processes. You don’t want leaders and team members paging through the guide and trying to understand procedures for the first time in the middle of an emergency. 

The plan should be flexible enough for designated leaders to assign roles and responsibilities in the moment of any size emergency, matching individual skills and strengths of available personnel with the tasks needed to be performed.

Additionally, fairground leadership should reference the plan periodically during staff and volunteer training, during exercises developed to test the plan’s strength, and during real-life emergencies. In each case, comments and concerns should be documented to help refine and improve the emergency guide for the future. 

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Make Fairground Insurance Coverage a Part of Your Emergency Plan 

A vital part of any emergency plan involves preparing for after the emergency has ended. No matter the situation, almost all emergencies involve some type of loss, whether from personal injury, property damage, or other loss, and often it’s costly.  

By partnering with McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance, you can prepare your fairground and business to cover potential losses arising from any emergency or crisis. Our team has more than 40 years of in-depth industry experience. Contact us today to learn more about specialty insurance for your unique coverage needs.

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