Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Indiana State Fair Incident

Thanks Mary for bringing this to my attention! This article was taken from an Emergency Management blog. GO CERT!!I don't know if these were Indiana CERT members that this article talks about as civilian responders, but it sure sounds like it.

The Indiana State Fair Incident
August 15, 2011


This past Saturday night, an outdoor stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair, killing five and injuring approximately 50 spectators. The stage had been setup for a Sugarland concert and there had been severe weather passing through the area with very strong winds that subsequently resulted in a catastrophic failure of the stage and canopy. Even though this incident is still being investigated, there are several important lessons learned that emergency management professionals can immediately recognize and apply.

Simply stated -- this incident highlights the very fine line that we, as a society, walk between normal days and normal accidents. Charles Perrow describes “normal accidents” as the unexpected interaction between component failures in a system. In this incident, the interaction between the environment (severe weather) and technology lead to a very unexpected event -- a Black Swan Event, if you will.

As I watched and listened the events unfold via social media and public safety radio communications, there were several lessons learned that were readily apparent but here are the three most important for us to remember:

•The first responders were civilian bystanders and they did an amazing job. These people took immediate action, helped the injured, rendered first aid, and reported valuable information into “the cloud”. Each and every one of them should be commended for their selfless actions in a dangerous and chaotic scene. As emergency planners, we must recognize the importance of civilian responders in large scale disasters -- support them!•Social media played an unbelievable role sharing information. From across the country and sitting behind my computer screen, I had pictures and videos of the incident before the news media reported anything. I knew what collapsed and where, I had approximate numbers of people killed and injured, and where they were transported. I knew approximately many patients went to each hospital, which hospitals were on divert, and which hospitals were still accepting patients -- all via social media! If you have not embraced social media for emergency management use, you are only hurting yourself. Social media is an amazing resource when used appropriately and provides near real-time information on dynamic incidents -- use it!
•We cannot become complacent and fatigued when it comes to the planning process. I am not saying, however, that this occurred here but this incident should act as a reminder that we must be prepared for worst-case scenarios through exercising, collaborative planning processes, dynamic, bi-directional information sharing (both vertically and horizontally), and excellent preparedness capabilities. Like it or not, as emergency services we are all on the same team -- act like it.
Unfortunately, incidents like this happen and will continue to happen despite our best efforts to limit their occurrence and consequences. Bottom line -- thank civilian responders but give them the training and resources they need to stay prepared, embrace social media as the resource we know it is and use it, and stay open-minded when planning for the consequences of vulnerabilities and risks.

Then check this link out:
http://plcert.typepad.com/cert/2011/08/indiana-state-fair-stage-collapse.html