Edited Version October 20, 1999
EIIP Classroom Online Presentation

"Special Events / Mass Gatherings Contingency Planning and Incident Management"

Steve Borth
Training Specialist, FEMA
Emergency Management Institute

The original unedited transcript of the October20, 1999 online Virtual Classroom presentation is available on the EIIP Virtual Forum (http://www.emforum.org). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each were deleted but content of discussions, questions, and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the presenter to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Amy Sebring: Welcome to the Virtual Classroom!

For the benefit of any first-timers, if you see a blue web address, you can click on it and the referenced Web page should appear in a browser window. After the first one, the browser window may not automatically come to the top, so you may need to bring it forward by clicking on a button at the status bar at the bottom of your screen.


Today we welcome Steve Borth, Training Specialist at FEMA's Emergency Management Institute and members of a focus group on Special Events/Mass Gatherings contingency planning and incident management. The background page is found at <http://www.emforum.org/vclass/991020.htm>. Please note there are seven (7) discussion questions posted on that page.

Steve and the focus group members will be meeting in person later this month, I believe. But to get their project started, Steve is here to tell us a little bit about this project and to collect some initial input. Steve will be putting up the discussion questions one at a time.

If you have a response, you do not need to use the question marks, just put in your response at the appropriate time.

We will ask you to try to think ahead a little as we go down the list, and start preparing any comment you may have for the next question, so we can keep the flow moving.

Please DO NOT use private messaging to Steve or the moderator as it makes it difficult for us to follow.

With that, I will turn it over to Steve to get us started. Thank you for joining us today, Steve.


Steve Borth: EMI is beginning development of training on Special Events Mass Gatherings Contingency Planning. Since most communities host an event or mass gathering of some type (parade, festival, etc) this project has the potential to have nationwide impact. In fact, some communities obtain a great deal of revenue and publicity from these annual events and count on them being successful every year. While most events go off without major incident, the potential for catastrophe is great at these large well-publicized events.

What we are doing at EMI is producing training related to special events/mass gatherings that focuses on the need for a formalized interagency pre-event planning process. This training will have to reach communities of all sizes, so we cannot just focus on very large events like the Olympics. We need to think about county fairs and local festivals also.

Because we can only bring a handful of people into EMI for a focus group on this topic, I thought the use of the EIIP would provide another avenue to obtain input prior to the focus group meeting. Today I am expecting some of the focus group participants on line with us. While they are here mostly to "listen in" they may also help in answering questions and clarifying information.

They are: Steve Borth; Capt. Barry Wante - Keene, NH, Police Dept; Lt. Dave McBath - NY State Police; Porter Shellhammer, Sarasota Fire Department; Dr. Jared Florance, Virginia Health Department; Lance Peterson, Weber County Utah EMA; DeeEll Fifield, Utah EMA; Wayne Morgan, Marion County Indiana, EMA; Greg Blalock, Wash, D.C. Fire and EMS and perhaps a few others.

Let's begin with the first discussion question.

Question #1:

Steve Borth: What was the process used in the pre-event planning for your special event or events you are aware of ? (review of permit application, hazard analysis, interagency meetings, contingency planning for each probable hazard) Which agency conducted the meetings?

Amy Sebring: Steve, we might also ask if anyone is in the process of planning an event now, or will have one in the future?


Steve Borth: Perhaps Capt. Wante could shed some light on how the planning went on the Keene NH Pumpkin Festival.

Barry Wante: Public Safety (Police / Fire / EMS) first set up meetings up to one year in advance with the promoters.

Chief Allen Baldwin: Ours starts with a permit issued by the Boro Administration for street closings, public facility use, etc. This is forwarded to each department for review. As the FD is now responsible for EMA. We review this area along with fire and EMS needs and do a hazard analysis. Our planning for the following year starts with a review of the last event as it closes or shortly thereafter. We also do extensive briefings with all agencies involved and issue written preplans and assignments.

Steve Borth: Chief, where are you located?

Chief Allen Baldwin: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Barry Wante: The promoters were required to present their events prior to any permits issued.

Steve Borth: Are the promoters a private outfit?

Barry Wante: In most cases here, yes. The exception would be a public protest.

Chief Allen Baldwin: In our case some promoters are private but most events are coordinated through the local chamber of commerce whom we have an excellent relationship with.

Steve Borth: What types of events are you planning for in Chambersburg, Chief?

Chief Allen Baldwin: Chambersfest, Applefest which are festivals held in the downtown area, a large fourth of July celebration, and several other large ones at our Boro Park and a large Christmas Parade downtown and several road runs.

Steve Borth: Barry, is there a lead agency in your case doing the planning?

Barry Wante: Lead agency tends to be city police. The police chief is the EMD for the city.

Don Hartley: We just finished a major outdoors arts festival here in Alabama. Draws thousands from around the country each year. I represented the EMA office as a member of the planning committee for the event. We put together contingencies for all hazards.

Our mobile command center also served as a communications center for all public safety linked to festival radio net. Also had radar available to watch weather developments.

Cam King: For the July/Aug 99 Pan Am Games there was a major committee which began its work some 5 - 6 years ago. The Subcommittees were extensive and had to focus on every aspect. They initially had meetings with the Atlanta Olympics committee. Emergency Management/security/ emergency services etc. who played major roles. The RCMP had several dozen different sub-committees dealing with a large variety of security issues. 26,000 volunteers in total were involved. Debriefings are being held. I believe the results could be shared if someone wanted them.

Steve Borth: To all --- does EMA tend to coordinate the pre-event planning or another agency?

Jim Cook: The Hazard Analysis portion of the Atlanta Olympics, Superbowl and Freeknik was primarily law enforcement "intell" information (expected turn-out of people, protesters, etc.) Most planning involved interagency meeting. EMA conducted most of the meetings. However, law enforcement did meet with neighboring law enforcement.

Chief Allen Baldwin: Until we took it over, EMA was not involved at all.

Steve Borth: Of course with these large high-profile events the Feds come in too and participate in planning?

Jim Cook: Oh yes - lots of Feds.

Steve Borth: Let's go on to question 2.

Question #2:

Steve Borth: Often formal written plans are developed for an event. What was the format of your plan? Was it organized by agency, function, hazard?


Chief Allen Baldwin: We forward information to county EMA and all neighboring agencies including state police.

Don Hartley: We chair each task force but all agencies have membership for major local events. i.e.: State Fair, Kentucky, CityFest, University of Alabama Football games.

Chief Allen Baldwin: We break it down using all three by agency. Sorry about my spelling I am trying to also eat lunch. Basically that's the format we use.

Steve Borth: I have examples of a number of approaches such as the Federal plan for the Atlanta Olympics that had a basic plan and annexes for the ESF's (as found in the Federal Response Plan); a local plan with an overview of the potential hazards and sections of the plan by agency.

One plan I have for the National High School Rodeo even has pre-scripted announcements to the audience and contestants for a variety of hazards. A couple of jurisdictions I know of use the ICS incident action plan as the format based on the ICS forms. That’s an interesting approach as responders become familiar with the forms and operational details.

Barry Wante: A single basic plan, then broken down by agency annex and contingency or response identification.

Cam King: The Winnipeg Pan Am plan was primarily by function with specific subsection on hazards, etc.

Steve Borth: I have a copy of Canadian and Australian Manuals on "Safe and Healthy Mass Gatherings". They are detailed and are great handbooks on the topic of contingency planning for events. I am not aware of USA equivalent. Are any of you?

Chief Allen Baldwin: Pennsylvania has some requirements in the EMS Licensure requirement Act.

Steve Borth: Yes EMS has done a lot of work in the area. I know NFA has a course on special operations.

Jim Cook: Since there should not be too much of the existing Emergency Operations Plan that would change for a special event, we spent most of our time on SOPs tailored to the special event.

Don Hartley: Good idea, Jim. Why reinvent the wheel? We do the same here and use SOPs as an adjunct to EOP.

Question #3:

Steve Borth: Bottom line - Was the plan used in response, if required? Was all the planning worth it?


Chief Allen Baldwin: Yes it was, it actually helped us handle a large flooding incident as one of the events came to a close, the flooding was surface runoff related to a large storm.

Don Hartley: When we hosted Olympic Soccer teams we had a brief threat. The plans worked great.

Steve Borth: Good to hear the effort paid off.

Cam King: Yes - plans worked well - but also due to training provided to staff and volunteers before the event.

Barry Wante: No question it was worth it! Regardless of the extent it had to be used, our response was planned and helped working with several different public safety agencies. As Don said, we didn't have to reinvent the wheel.

Question #4:

Steve Borth: Did you use the incident command system in responses (structure, reporting, etc)?


Barry Wante: Yes, required by city code.

Don Hartley: Can't see how anything can be done smoothly without ICS. It's the rule here.

Steve Borth: Seems to me in the training we develop we should recommend using ICS.

Amy Sebring: Our fire department is very familiar with ICS, but law enforcement is just catching on with these kinds of events.

Chief Allen Baldwin: I agree 100%, we try to pre-designate as many ICS positions as possible.

Steve Borth: EMI has developed a Law Enforcement ICS course for delivery by State/locals.

Don Hartley: Although law enforcement continues to balk a bit. Fire readily uses it. Is law enforcement an ICS problem elsewhere?

Amy Sebring: I think ICS is also just beginning to come into the public health awareness also.

Chief Allen Baldwin: You can lead them to water but cannot make them drink it.

Amy Sebring: The challenge we had is with integration, instead of each agency setting up their own structure.

Jared Florance: There can be a problem using ICS for a biological event if it is only seen in clinics, ER's and doc's offices --- no EMS component.

Steve Borth: Dr. Florance brings up a good point about terrorism --- these events would be prime targets, not terrorism but there was an E-coli breakout after a county fair in New York recently.

Amy Sebring: Yes, Washington County, I almost attended!

Steve Borth: Capt. Wante, would you care to comment?

Barry Wante: Typical cops!!! Actually we are coming around, you just have to show them it works.

Terry Storer: In rural Illinois, we are reminded that "he who has the loaded gun is the Commander".

Chief Allen Baldwin: Actually there has been great strides taken by our local PD and the State Police to include ICS training and use it. When we have all used unified command and ICS the incidents have gone great and the PD and other agencies are starting to realize that this is the path. All boro employees have been trained in ICS to help this. Our biggest problem is sometimes in the EMS arena. All our EMS providers are trained in it but some outsiders just don't get the picture.

Steve Borth: Anything else on the use of ICS ? If not, let's move on.

Question #5:

Steve Borth: Have already covered this a bit but let’s focus on the event itself and post-event --- the role of EMA. What was the role of the emergency management agency in the pre-event, event, and post-event phase?


Chief Allen Baldwin: Make sure that all the players have standardized forms and a copy of the plan and don't forget communications.

Steve Borth: I have seen EMA send out Field observers to be additional eyes/ears looking at big picture not just one aspect.

Chief Allen Baldwin: Assist with planning, support, logistics and review of the event to prepare for the next.

Steve Borth: ICS for these planned special events is an ideal opportunity for all agencies to use it but to be good at it they have to use it on a daily basis.

Ray Pena: Question re: ICS: The application for fire services is obvious. Their application is very much a group activity. It seems law enforcement and public health agencies don't function the same way, for the most part. Can ICS be adapted for law enforcement? Or should we be looking at a structure that recognizes how ALL agencies function and is adaptable for all?

Jared Florance: Health departments tend to respond to "outbreaks" without EMA assistance --- it would take something that overwhelmed the local medical system, or a hint of terrorism to get early notification.

Steve Borth: At Woodstock 99, Public health was at the command table and worked hand-in-hand with law when water/health issues came up.

Amy Sebring: Re: public health. We did a session with Anita Kellogg who was involved with Public Health using ICS for Atlanta Olympics as I recall, will get the link.


Jared Florance: Atlanta was exceptional for the number of outside agencies available to be integrated into a response. The normal public health support flow would be locality-state-CDC.

Amy Sebring: Do you do a formal debrief on these kinds of events?

Chief Allen Baldwin: We debrief and review each event with all participants to see if we can do it better.

Barry Wante: Yes, with public safety staff and the event staff. It is a critical component of any incident or event.

Chief Allen Baldwin: As I stated earlier, most events are handled through the Chamber of Commerce and we include them in our reviews

Don Hartley: We debrief and develop a written after-action report for all. Most local agencies and groups here like to use us to coordinate since they see us as not having an ax to grind with different agencies and organizations.

Chief Allen Baldwin: Amen.

Steve Borth: Let's move on. I want to make sure I have enough time for the training question.

Question #6:

Steve Borth: What would you do differently next time in the event planning phase? If anything?


Chief Allen Baldwin: We are planning on taking advantage of the Boro's GIS and mapping system to better lay out the event site, response routes etc.

Question #7:

Steve Borth: If you were designing training on special event/mass gathering contingency planning training - what would it look like? i.e., length, delivery mechanism, topics covered, audience.


Chief Allen Baldwin: Length, concentrate on preplanning and ICS.

Amy Sebring: I would think that a basic ICS would be particularly well suited, due to the ability to expand as size of event warranted.

Chief Allen Baldwin: Most likely and it's easy to deliver.

Amy Sebring: Should also focus on types of contingencies, hazards analysis if you will, to anticipate.

Steve Borth: A short unit on basic ICS would be worthwhile

Chief Allen Baldwin: Definitely Hazard analysis. Use of support agencies and considerations.

Amy Sebring: I think prepared public messages are a good idea as mentioned earlier. AND a means to deliver them.

Chief Allen Baldwin: Also maybe delivery methods for these messages.

Jared Florance: Something on biological threat identification.

Steve Borth: Yes, a PA system is a good idea.

Barry Wante: I would suggest a two-day classroom. Pre-planning, risk analysis, plan development and include an opportunity for class members to develop plans for their own events. The target audience beyond public safety and health certainly should include some of the event organizers. ICS and the concept of unified command are essential.

Chief Allen Baldwin: As far as delivery methods we have had good luck using local media TV and radio to make announcements for event goers and participants.

Cam King: Opportunities for table top/simulation exercises --- especially on an interagency level.

Chief Allen Baldwin: There is a need to know. PEMA held training for our Municipal Officials recently and used the Applefestival in October as the event for a BIO incident.

Steve Borth: Would we scare off volunteers with the terrorism hazard?

Terry Storer: Most certainly the program needs to be "user friendly". Don't scare away the volunteer.

Steve Borth: Thanks for all your ideas I know time has not allowed a full discussion but if you want to send me ideas or additional information, plans, etc. please email me <[email protected]>. Amy, would you like to wrap this up?


Amy Sebring: We are just about out of time. Thank you very much, Steven, and good luck with this project. Thanks to all of you who participated here today. Steve, please stand by while we get a few announcements out of the way.

We have two new pledges since yesterday. We challenged the students from University of North Texas, and Arkansas Tech University and we have one pledge from each, Erik Lowman and Justin Drittler! < //bell http://www.emforum.org/pledge.wav> Thanks Erik and Justin! If you have not made a pledge to join us for at least one session per month, please consider doing so and see <http://www.emforum.org/eiip/pledge.htm> for further info.

Avagene, upcoming events please?

Avagene Moore: Thanks, Amy. And thanks to Steve and company for today's presentation.

• Next Tuesday 10/26, we are pleased to have Libbi Rucker-Reed and friends to talk about state emergency management associations in FEMA Region IV.

• FYI: I will be speaking to the Emergency Management Association of Tennessee (EMAT) tomorrow in Murfreesboro, TN during their annual fall conference. Will be addressing the regional concept of state associations meeting online plus promoting the Virtual Forum and WEBEX II.

• Next Wednesday 10/27, Steven Fischer, Office of Pipeline Safety, USDOT to talk about the National Pipeline Mapping System.

Please make plans to attend both sessions. That's all for now, Amy.

Amy Sebring: Thanks Avagene. We will adjourn the session for now, but you are invited to remain for open discussion.