If examining emergency procedures has suddenly become a much more critical part of your site inspection process, a new document by the International Association of Conference Centers may be the help you need to suss out the safest spots.

Follow the September terrorist attacks, IACC formed the Emergency Procedures Task Force chaired by board member Rodman Marymor, managing partner of Berkeley, Calif.–based Cardinal Communications. The task force is canvassing IACC members around four critical areas of study: health emergencies, natural disasters, facility emergencies, and deliberate disruption/acts.

The first goal of the task force is to ask member conference centers about their emergency policies and procedures. The aim "is to identify and benchmark standards that are shared by at least 80 percent of the conference centers," says Marymor. "If it’s [a procedure used by] 80 percent or more we’re going to call it a standard."

Secondly the task force is going to collect examples of conference center best practices regarding emergency procedures. "So at the end of this, if you figure a couple hundred conference centers each contribute one or two best practices in each of the four areas, we’re going to have a really nice document that’s going to have best practices dealing with swimming pool safety, dealing with tornadoes or floods, electrical outages, guest rape, armed robbery, computer back ups… We could wind up with a document unlike anything in the industry."

The emergency procedures white paper was expected to be published online before the end of 2001 at the IACC Web site (www.iacconline.org). Event planners who register at the site will have access to the information.

"If a planner is going into a property, I would say it’s important for them to understand not just what the food is like what, not just what the rooms are like, and what the AV is like, but also what emergency procedures are in place," says Marymor. "We didn’t think about it before September 11. We’re thinking about it more now."