Imagine that you are organizing a huge festival in which safety and security are the foremost priorities. How will you keep track of several thousand guests and hundreds of boats in a few hectic days? The Tall Ships Races in Ålesund held in 2015 was a success with the help of CIM.
The Tall Ships Race is an annual international sail training event. Ålesund, Norway was one of the host cities for this event in the summer of 2015. Planning for the four day event commenced in 2013 and was led by Albert E Gjørtz.
When the little fair-haired boy, wearing a red Manchester United shirt, was separated from his parents in the large crowds, emergency plans and crisis management procedures were put to the test.
The boy’s parents tried to find the boy but he was nowhere to be found. The despairing parents contacted the local police, who in turn notified the organising committee. Fortunately, the emergency response organisation had described, and trained for, a similar incident when conducting the Risk and Vulnerability analysis prior to the event. The emergency plan included instructions on what actions to take if a child would go missing.
Only 15 minutes after the report was made the missing six-year-old boy was found and reunited with his worried parents. Even the local police were amazed at how quickly and easily the incident was resolved.
“I will not ponder on what could have happened if we hadn’t prepared and trained. Rather, I’ll emphasize the importance of careful preparations, having a project management tool and an organization drilled in what to do when situations arise” says Albert E. Gjørtz, Project Manager and Head of Emergency Management in Ålesund municipality.
“This incident put the core of our preparedness to the test and we passed, with aplomb”.
In 2010, Ålesund was amongst the first local authorities in Norway to adopt CIM. Albert had already successfully used CIM in his role as the emergency manager and decided to use CIM as a project management tool for the Tall Ships Races.
“As the contingency leader it was my job to consider emergency preparedness at all levels. I would strengthen our emergency procedures and create a safe event for Ålesund “says Albert.
A large event requires careful preparation and a large support network. The Tall Ships Races comprised nine event committees and 400 volunteers. The plan for this event was based on the local authorities existing emergency plans as well as those of the emergency services. A Special Operations event centre was created to handle this event.
It was quickly recognized that a comprehensive event management process was needed. With so many diverse tasks and so many people involved it was clear that the project management tool had to be easy to use and capable of integrating with existing systems.
The requirements were discussed with One Voice who provided additional modules for CIM. These easy to use modules enabled continuous information flow and tasking to be integrated with CIM. The additional modules were:
Given the scale of this event and the number of people involved, emergency response training was commenced early in the preparations for the Tall Ships Race. Each of the committees received thorough training in the use of CIM and they cascaded the training to the volunteers.
All 400 of these volunteers were registered in CIM with their name, contact telephone number and email address enabling them to be sent information by SMS and email both prior to and during the event itself. By using a simple interface on the mobile device the volunteers could notify the organisers of any changes without actually being logged into CIM. This eased the workload and lowered the threshold for exception handling.
Early and close cooperation with the Police & emergency services was essential given the focus on safety and emergency planning both prior to and during the event. A joint Risk and Vulnerability assessment was conducted to identify possible adverse events such as fire on land or on a vessel, bomb threat, crew overboard, evacuation, crowd violence and lost children. The objective was to establish a clear plan of action for what should be done and by whom.
A six year old boy became separated from his parents in a large crowd and his frantic parents immediately raised the alarm. The incident was reported to ‘control’ and an incident created on CIM. The ‘action plan’ swung into action and using the alert function an SMS was sent out with the description of the child to all on-duty event personnel. As a result the child was located within fifteen minutes and returned to his parents. All actions taken, communications and responses were logged in CIM providing real time information to the organisers.
A major exercise was conducted prior to the commencement of the event which simulated a fire in the leisure marina in Ålesund. This exercise provided valuable experience for all participants. The contingency plan and the alert/warning system was tested with a bulk notification to all residents in a defined geographical area.
The choice of CIM as the overarching project management tool combined with thorough training for all participants has enabled the Ålesund local authority to be well prepared for any future events and projects. Many of those who were members of the various committees hold key positions within the local authority and have positive experiences with CIM.
As a result of our experiences in using CIM within the Ålesund local authority I recommend that other local authorities use CIM as their primary project management tool in the planning of future events both large and small.