Lessons from the Marathon

Lessons from the Marathon

Find the time to document what you do, before your good ideas slip away forever.
You may want them back one day.

Steven A. Adelman

This edition of Adelman on Venues is addressed to all of us, including myself. During the two weeks since the Boston Marathon bombings, I have been very busy. I spent much of the first week talking on TV about safety and security at public accommodations like the Marathon route, along which I used to live when I attended Boston College Law School. Then I ran a local road race in symbolic support for my former neighbors. Then my time was consumed by a client’s time-sensitive project. Since April 15, I’ve already forgotten several pearls of wisdom I wanted to share with you.

Here is the point. If you are associated with a venue, you cannot afford to do what I did, i.e., just let time get away from you. Whether one is talking about lessons that you and your staff learned about your own security from the Marathon bombings, or recapping events that take place in your venue, it is vital to memorialize what you thought about, what safety and security steps you considered but decided not to take, and the reasons for what you actually did for each event.

I am often asked about the risk of creating a paper trail and having it used against you if something later goes wrong. I have two answers to that:

  • If you make reasonable decisions based on reasonable information, be proud to leave a paper trail because it will help you.

  • There is going to be an abundant “paper trail,” made of actual paper or electronic records, whether you add to the pile or not.

Remember that the Marathon bombers were identified by a combination of a Lord & Taylor’s video camera over the front door (likely there to detect shoplifters and loiterers), and the countless pictures and video that ordinary people recorded on their smart phones. Do you think your crowds are different? In 2013, everything is recorded, somewhere, by someone.

One of the things I finally got to this week was a new case in which I am serving as a standard-of-care expert. In my initial document review, I did not see much evidence about command and communications planning or lines of responsibility and authority among the staff, and I don’t think there is an after-action report. I bet deponents would have found the questions easier to answer if they didn’t have to rely on their memories long after the fact.

We’re all busy people. That’s not a complaint; it’s job security. But from a risk management standpoint, you want to find the time to document what you do, in whatever form works for you, before your good ideas slip away forever. You may want them back one day.