Risk Management: Attendee Health Issues/Illness

In order to have the most comprehensive risk management plan, you have to cover a wide array of situations that can impact your meeting. It is easy to think of the big things, like storms, terrorist attacks and other events that have the potential to shut down an entire city. But, we also need to plan for situations that are on a smaller-scale, and may only impact a single attendee. This is where planning for attendee health issues, illness and accidents comes in.

With travel, a chock-full agenda and being surrounded by others, it is inevitable that someone is going to get sick during your event. Attendees work hard and play hard when at a meeting, conference or event. This can drain their immune system. Minimize the impact with these quick tips:

  • Think of illness and accidents in the site selection phase. Items to consider include access to hospitals or an on-site physician and diseases/viruses impacting the area.
  • As part of the registration process, make emergency contact details a requirement. Collect the name, phone number, alternate phone number and email of their designated contact. You should also collect if they need an ADA-compliant room or have any dietary health requirements.
  • During the pre-meeting stage, include communication to attendees reminding them to bring any prescription or over-the-counter medications with them. If the meeting is abroad, make sure attendees understand how to legally travel with medications. You should also have attendees check into medical insurance for travel overseas.
  • Before you arrive on-site, prepare or purchase a first aid kit.
  • It is best practice to become CPR-Heimlich Maneuver-AED certified in case of an emergency situation needing immediate response.
  • Try to incorporate some health/wellness initiatives into your meeting or event to minimize the chance of illness. If possible, incorporate immunity-boosting foods into the menu. A juice bar is camouflaged as a trendy, in-the-moment perk, while secretly providing sickness-fighting vitamins.
  • When selecting activities, keep your attendees in mind and avoid any activities that have a high-risk for injury or accidents. Work with your DMC or meeting planner to obtain necessary documentation on the activity and its safety level.
  • As part of your on-site contact list, include any on-site or on-call medical personnel, addresses and directions to the nearest hospitals and emergency phone numbers. Also locate on-site first aid relief and defibrillators. Include clear instructions on what to do/where to go should an emergency situation arise.
  • If after all of this, you still face a medical situation, remember you are the attendee’s friendly face. Do what you can to support them through the illness or injury and get them the medical attention they need.


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