What’s Your – and Your Exhibitors’ and Attendees’ – Emergency Response IQ?

Candy Adams, CTSM, CEM, CMP, CMM, a.k.a. “The Booth Mom®”, is a veteran exhibit-management consultant and project manager, exhibit staff trainer, exhibitor educator, and award-winning writer who guides exhibitors through the trade show marketing maze to increase their show ROI while decreasing show expenses.  www.BoothMom.com / CandyAdams@BoothMom.com

What’s your response to a medical emergency on the show floor?  And what should your exhibitors’ reaction be, based on that venue’s emergency protocols? How do you share this information?

I wasn’t ready. But is anybody ever really ready for an emergency?

Last week, I had the unfortunate occasion to be a person to witness – and first to react to – a medical emergency on the show floor at a trade show in a major US convention center.

Flashback: when I saw the attendee fall and hit his head on a sharp corner of a low, metal pedestal in the booth across from my client’s exhibit, I remembered from my industry certification training that dialing 911 can actually delay initial fire department paramedic response time. I was taught that the proper reaction is to find a house phone and report any emergency and its location to in-house Security. (Why? Since booth numbers change show-to-show, and a venue’s trained Security Department has that show’s floor plan, they can share the emergency’s location immediately with in-house paramedics or fire department responders.)

Since I’ve had emergencies in my exhibits before, I always look for house phones as I walk during exhibit set-up between my client’s exhibit and the nearest restrooms and the main entrance, but had not spotted any. But, it came to me, after his fall that I hadn’t looked on the huge, square concrete support columns next to our exhibit. So, trying to cover all bases, I dialed 911 as I dashed around the pole. Again, no house phone.

Running on pure adrenaline for 12 long minutes of the 911 call, I was the lifeline to this poor man, relaying a blow-by-blow to the 911 operator of what was going on with him and his care. The victim was bleeding profusely from a deep head wound and was having trouble breathing. The operator’s instructions were to put steady pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding and to get an AED ready in case it was necessary to get his heart back in rhythm. So we raided my exhibit’s cleaning kit of unused white washcloths to put pressure on his head wound and I hollered at the gathering crowd to fetch any and all AED’s (not knowing who would find them on the show floor.) Luckily, a security officer and two good Samaritans were already putting pressure on the fall victim’s head wound, monitoring his weakening pulse and doing manual CPR. Within a few minutes, two AED units were delivered and put to use – twice – to stimulate his heart.

At this point, in-house medical responders showed up and took over, followed a few minutes later by the local fire department paramedics. At this point, I was relieved of my duty of updating the 911 operator, only to return to my booth and find that one of my exhibit staff had fainted and was now being treated by the in-house medical crew. What a day!

Replaying the emergency (my personal “post-con”), I put together my own 20/20 hindsight list:

  1. I should have known if – and where – there were house phones in the convention center.
  2. I should have given the 911 operator the permanent number on the support pole near my exhibit, instead of the temporary booth number where he fell.

So what information do you share with your exhibitors about dealing with emergency situations on the show floor – and how? Putting emergency information in the online exhibitor kit is useful, but not quickly accessible in an emergency or even viewed by the exhibit staff onsite.

And do your attendees get any information on how to respond to emergencies – and do you collect emergency contact information for them?

At one show where I exhibit, each and every badge has an emergency hotline number printed for any safety or security issues – fire, medical, terrorism, active shooter, etc.  This seems like a simple, very low-cost solution to disseminate emergency contact info to all attendees and exhibitors.

How about venues installing permanent signage where everyone will see it – i.e. at entrances, in their elevators and on restrooms doors?

And I’d love to see a “red sheet” of emergency protocols distributed to all exhibitors with the “Welcome to the Show” flier that’s dropped at every exhibit during set-up. That way the onsite exhibitors who may need the info get the memo!

Since venues’ safety/security protocols and contact numbers differ, please share them. You could be saving a life!

 

Candy Adams, CTSM, CEM, CMP, CMM, a.k.a. “The Booth Mom®”, is a veteran exhibit-management consultant and project manager, exhibit staff trainer, exhibitor educator, and award-winning writer who guides exhibitors through the trade show marketing maze to increase their show ROI while decreasing show expenses.  www.BoothMom.com / CandyAdams@BoothMom.com

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