Answers to Your Burning Security Questions

11 questions from Alan Kleinfeld’s Smart Meetings financial and insurance webinar

In a world of heightened security awareness, Arrive Management Group’s Alan Kleinfeld found himself answering a lot of event planner questions during the Smart Meetings webinar on Security May 25. While he is not a lawyer or a doctor, he was happy to provide the following answers to questions about liability and medical issues based on his experience in meeting planning and law enforcement.

1. Is it mandatory to have insurance when organizing a business to business event?

Short answer: it depends. Is it just you and one other person? Where are you holding it? Longer answer: Most hotels and venues will require a signed contract and in almost all cases, they’ll ask for proof of insurance and/or a hold harmless clause. Depending on your company structure, you may be required to have insurance for your staff or some type of general liability. Ask your accountant and/or in-house council. In some cases, you may also want to check local/state ordinances.

2. We hold a lot of our meetings internationally. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with safety and security when in another country?

I focus mainly on the U.S. because our laws and cultures—including gun laws—are so different from so much of the world’s. Seek out information from your international venues, ask the local law enforcement for guidance and check in with your local CVB or equivalent for guidance.

3. If you are CPR and/or AED certified, don’t have the device, but at an event that does, are you personally liable if you use it and the person doesn’t make it?

This would fall in the category of the Good Samaritan Law. The answer would depend on where and the circumstances. Seek input from a lawyer or human resources expert.

Often when I’m doing safety and security plans, especially for larger groups, I tend to include medical personnel. For example, I may work with local government agencies or private providers to stage an ambulance nearby so they can be where I need them when I need them.

To get more content like this, watch Alan Kleinfield’s cover story: Zeroing in on Meetings Security

4. Since hotel staff may be certified in CPR, how important is it for the meeting planner to also be certified?

I think there’s nothing wrong with more education and training, even if you don’t use it. Maybe you won’t have to do it onsite at your meeting, but perhaps you may wish to have it at other times, like at home or on vacation. Having said that, one of the reasons you want a safety and security plan is so this question doesn’t come up. If you need CPR done, your plan should state who can perform it. If your venue has that resource and has agreed to offer it, then use them.

5. Is there a Canadian equivalent to the ICS & FEMA?

Short answer: I don’t know. Longer answer: I googled “emergency response Canada” and found a government web site dealing with emergency prevention and mitigation along with a link to emergency management planning. It seems similar to our ICS, but the terminology is different.

6. What have you seen for planning in the case of a gas leak? We had one recently and the whole company froze.

Don’t freeze! Dial 9-1-1 and get out. First responders are often equipped to deal with this. They may tape off a large perimeter and do a leak check. Then the local utility or gas company can often deal with it.

7. If I want to contact the local police dept. where our meeting is being held, who do I talk to there?

Call them up and ask if they have a PIO (Public Information Officer) or a Community Relations Officer. If it’s a small department, ask to speak to the Chief of Police or Director of Public Safety.

8. Is it okay to give over the counter medicine or band aids to attendees for first aid?

It depends. What if you give some them some aspirin and they have an allergic reaction? Or offer them a bandage and the cut gets infected? Are you liable? Try to avoid the issue and refer them to the front desk of your hotel or suggest a trip to the closest gift shop or convenience store. The point is to find opportunities to be helpful without putting yourself at risk.

9. Should our association buy a AED to take onsite with us in case someone has a heart attack?

It depends. What kind of liability will you risk if you take it and don’t use it? Or use it and it doesn’t work right? Or use it and the attendee doesn’t survive? Also, you’ll need to keep the AED maintained and have someone certified to use it. One way to avoid this risk it to see if your venue has an AED and someone who is qualified to use it.

10. How do I know if there will be any protests or rallies in the city where our meeting is being held?

In many cases, local law enforcement and even local FBI offices track information and intelligence on protest groups. You can also check the Internet. Some of these groups post announcements online and on social media.

11. What about if my guests over-drink, am I liable?

You could be. In many cities and states across the country, a bartender can be held liable if he/she over-serves a customer and then the customer causes an accident (or death) on his drive home. Best is to avoid it. Onsite, give drink tickets and/or make sure bar staff are trained to notice such things. Encourage them to stop serving or, at the very least, inform you so you can make a decision to stop serving that person.


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