Crowd safety a big part of planning for Fun Fest

Holly Viers • Oct 3, 2017 at 8:44 AM

KINGSPORT — Since a majority of the events for Fun Fest take place outdoors, crowd safety is a big part of the planning for the week-long festival, Fun Fest Director Lucy Fleming said Monday.

"Because most of our events are outdoors in very open, public areas, we spend a good deal of time coordinating with the local safety departments — the police department, the sheriff's department, the EMS and also city departments that could come into play — looking at each event and looking at the possible threats," Fleming said.

In addition to working to mitigate those threats, Fleming said they plan how to respond should an incident happen and "how that process goes into play about making sure people receive services, making sure people are safe, looking at exits and entrances and how you notify people, and how you notify the safety departments, the police and fire and whatever services you'd need."

Fleming said there is a "logistical setup" in place that Fun Fest organizers try to make sure doesn't interfere with the general ongoing of the festival.

"So we'll meet several times during the year and work on these events, and the police department, the fire department, the EMS, the communications people all attend seminars throughout the year and bring that information in, and we work with that and constantly improve," she said.

"And after each event, we constantly look at what we can do to make it better, where there were weak points. We have, for a long time, worked on all of that. There are things that are already in place, and I think we'll probably see more things as we go toward the future.

"I think we do a good job of communicating and preparing for those things that you think are possible, and then there's always something like this (the Las Vegas shootings) that comes from out of nowhere. But once you have operating procedures in place, you can go forward and apply it to the situation. My hat's off to all those departments we work with, because they really do spend time and effort putting plans together."

As for the events that unfolded in Las Vegas on Sunday, Fleming said there will be lessons to learn.

"We're all paying attention to what happened in Vegas and what we will learn from what happened in Vegas to make events safer. Even the people I've touched base with today, we're all watching and waiting, and we'll learn a lot."