It’s a beautiful Sunday morning at the local spring fair. The sun is shining brightly. The birds are chirping, kids are laughing and the Ferris Wheel is going round and round.
It is a small fair in a small town. You expect to see about 2,500 people come through the gate today. Everything is in place and you are proud of your team’s work producing this amazing community event.
Suddenly the radio comes to life. A 6-year-old child has been stung by a bee and is having trouble breathing. Your first-aid volunteers jump into action and race over to the midway. The child is struggling to breathe and turning blue. 9-1-1 is called and paramedics are on the way.
Time seems to standstill. The child becomes more and more drowsy eventually falling unconscious. Shortly after she stops breathing. The first aiders start CPR but cannot get oxygen into the child’s lungs due to the swelling in her airway.
About 15 minutes after calling 9-1-1 the local paramedics arrive and take over care of the child. Unfortunately, it is too late. She has sadly died. Paramedics and police seal off the area and contact the coroner who will attend the scene.
The midway is shut down. People are traumatized. The local media got word of the incident and arrived at the fair. Your fair went from a fun-filled experience to one of terror, shock, and sadness.
About a year later you are served with papers. The family of the young girl is suing you stating that you did not follow good risk management processes, were negligent in not ensuring proper care was available on site, and failed to meet due diligence standards.
If only you would have had proper medics on-site maybe the child would have survived. Maybe you wouldn’t be on the wrong side of this public relations nightmare. Maybe you wouldn’t be getting sued.
Risk management is a delicate balancing act where you anticipate problems and plan to mitigate them by implementing effective controls and strategies. In doing so you reduce your risk which results in reduced costs. During the risk management process, you must determine the cost/risk-benefit immediately as well as in the short and long term.
Every event should conduct a safety and risk assessment. You should ensure you have all of the controls in place to ensure the safety of participants, staff, and volunteers. Ensuring that you have robust protocols in place to manage incidents with professionals on-site will go a long way to prevent unnecessary risk and help to ensure a successful event.