National Preparedness Month: Tips for meeting planners and event hosts

Safety at public assembly venues is a huge concern, and often weighs heavy on the minds of event planners.

“This is a serious and sometimes overwhelming responsibility for event organizers. Patron safety can be a heavy burden if you let it be,” wrote Cameron Ungar, President of Stylehawk Event Services, in a blog post for the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM).

September is National Preparedness Month, focusing on the over-arching theme: “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.”

At the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) campus, customer service and guest safety are our top priorities – it’s what we do – but our emergency preparedness manager can also offer his expertise directly to meeting and event planners that utilize our facilities.

Marc Vincent, the GWCCA’s Emergency Preparedness Manager.

GWCCA Emergency Preparedness Manager Marc Vincent is an expert in homeland security, counter-terrorism, weather-related threats and natural disasters, risk management and contingency planning, just to name a few disciplines.

Here are three key areas the Authority and Vincent can assist clients with when it comes to emergency preparedness.

Active Shooter Training

He can arrange and administer active shooter training for clients, a service the Authority began offering since Vincent came on board last October.

The training focuses on:



At 220 acres, including the 21-acre Centennial Olympic Park, 3.9 million-square-foot convention center, and various outdoor spaces that can be activated for events, the GWCCA campus is vast.

Knowing your way around is critical, especially during an emergency situation.

“I think that some of the things we can do for our clients regarding emergency preparedness is orient them to the facility and the emergency egress routes,” said Vincent. “We offer support in creating an emergency incident action plan (IAP) that involves response procedures for the most likely hazards encountered at the GWCCA. Included in the IAP are notification procedures, contact telephone numbers, potential reunification locations, and first responder data.”

Also, it’s important to understand the venue’s emergency response plan and evacuation procedures.

Inclement Weather

Being prepared for Mother Nature is a part of emergency preparedness and we can help with that too.

The GWCCA, through the Emergency Preparedness Manager (EPM), will produce daily weather reports if severe weather is forecast for the GWCCA campus. The GWCCA’s Event Services can share those daily reports with event managers. Also, during certain severe weather threats (tornado warning, winter weather, severe thunderstorms during outdoor events, etc.), the GWCCA EPM works directly with our customers to develop response procedures to mitigate the consequences to their event.

“When you consider Georgia’s history of hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and ice storms along with the threat of pandemic flu, preparedness becomes an even more critical issue. Though each situation is unique, any organization can be better prepared if it plans carefully, puts emergency procedures in place, and practices for emergencies of all kinds,” reads an excerpt from “Preparing makes good business sense.”