This week, as Americans reflect on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, meeting professionals can be thankful for the work of International Association of Assembly Managers, Coppell, Texas. In the last five years, IAAM has undertaken several initiatives to protect lives and secure property and business viability in the public assembly facility industry.

Immediately following the incidents of 9/11, IAAM formed the Safety and Security Task Force under Frank Poe, CEO of the Dallas Convention Center, which initiated work with the major national sports leagues to develop and publish best practices for safety and security for convention centers and exhibit halls; arenas, stadiums, and amphitheaters; and theaters and performing arts centers.

The resulting recommendations have been widely adopted by public event facilities and have been a resource for government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security. DHS used them in creating the Vulnerability Identification Self-Assessment Tool (ViSAT) for public assembly facilities to gauge emergency preparedness and response plans. The IAAM Foundation received a $750,000 grant in October 2005 to increase the awareness and use of the ViSAT program in U.S. public venues.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, IAAM again stepped up, tackling such issues as sheltering at public facilities. Facility managers have recognized gaps in communication between the facilities and government agencies in charge of preparedness and response. In November 2005, IAAM responded to these gaps by forming a Shelter Management Task Force, which published the Mega Shelter Best Practice Guidelines for Planning, Activation, and Operation.

For more about IAAM, visit www.iaam.org.