Medical Risk Management For Trade Show

On the NBC hit show, This Is Us, married couple Beth and Randall play a game called “worst-case scenario” to help hash out all of their fears about a certain scenario, sans filter.  

The rules are simple, each person takes a turn voicing a terrible thing that could happen while the other partner listens without judgment, in an effort to alleviate stress and feel heard.

While it may seem like an odd game to play, the truth is we already play this game in our minds every. single. day.

Instead of hiding our concerns in the recesses of our minds, it lays everything out in the open.

And that’s how I want you to approach medical risk management for your show…get it all out.

Be honest with all the anxieties that you have surrounding your show and the what ifs.  Then deal with them in a constructive way.

Don’t Wait. Plan.

No one is immune to having things go wrong. Even the most innocuous of events can become tonight’s headline.

I don’t mean to be a downer, but I’ve heard and seen too much to know that it’s incredibly foolish not to plan for the worst.

Most people I talk to worry and prepare for emergencies like inclement weather or criminal activity and while those are all valid concerns – ones we should never take lightly – they don’t occur as often as medical crises.

So, what type of medical risk management plan should you have?

I’m so glad you asked.

The following recommendations outlined are to help guide you through the process. Note that not everything that could be important will be listed.

Let’s jump in.


Everyone involved with your show must have insurance.

This means your venue, hotel, restaurants, and anywhere that is associated with your show in any way.

That might seem like overkill, but imagine you offer a VIP guest experience at a local attraction and, God forbid, something goes wrong. Did you check beforehand if the local attraction carries liability insurance? If not, you could be in trouble.

Having insurance reduces your financial impact should anything bad happen.

Some of the most common claims are made by individuals who got hurt in some way at an event (doing something they shouldn’t have been doing) and make a claim for compensation due to the negligence of the show organizer.

Buy insurance early. Don’t wait. Once you buy it you will be covered until the end of the agreed period.

Special note: Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean you don’t need guests to sign waivers and releases before they participate in an activity that carries potential hazards.

Peace of mind is never overrated.

Avoid and Mitigate

Somethings just need to be avoided entirely.

If something carries a high degree of risk then it’s not even worth your consideration.

But many things are low in risk or cannot be avoided. In those cases, you identify what the exposures are and then you work to mitigate or diminish the risks.

Doing so will help you create a plan to lower the probability that they will occur.

Here are a few examples of identifying possible risks and ways you can help mitigate them…

  • It’s the middle of Summer and it’s likely to be hot. To prevent guests from becoming too warm and/or dehydrated, mitigate that risk by providing cold water free of charge and cooling areas.
  • The event takes place in the Winter which means that there could be icy walkways. To reduce the risk of falls make sure that salt has been distributed evenly over all walkways and entrances.
  • If it should rain, placing mats on hard, slippery surfaces would be a good way to mitigate the risk of accidental falling.

Medical Emergency Plan

You should always have a standard go-to medical plan in place in case of emergencies that all show personnel and exhibitors are aware of.

This should include (but not limited to)…

  1. A well-stocked first aid station.
  2. Emergency equipment like an AED (automatic external defibrillator).
  3. Onsite first responder team.
  4. Knowing the location of every local hospital and urgent care center and their phone numbers.
  5. Safety and security team that is in charge of assessing the situation, completing incident reports, and interviewing witnesses.
  6. Additional onsite trained medical staff.
  7. Know the time it takes for a local response team to make it to the venue.


Common sense tells us that sometimes restrictions are a good thing, like age restrictions on the sale of alcohol or admittance to an R-rated movie for kids.

Sometimes I have restrictions in place to protect others from harm.

For example, I restrict the hours in which exhibitors can move in and move out to times when I know that I have security and safety staff onsite to keep an eye on what’s happening.

Some shows and events need to have age restrictions in place.

While it might seem like a no-brainer, after-party events should be reserved for those over the age of 21.

Something to also consider is restricting access to parts of the show floor to certain age groups if there is equipment, machinery, or displays that could pose a danger to young attendees.

Duty of Care

Please don’t miss this:as a Show Organizer you have an obligation to create the safest environment possible for your attendees by avoiding anything that could be foreseen as a threat to their wellbeing.

Sometimes this means you have to be a little crazy with your imagination for the sake of your guests.  It also means that you care about them and are prepared to do whatever it takes to prevent and address medical situations.

So go ahead and lay everything out on the table and practice a little worst-case-scenario.

Who knows, you might find it a little therapeutic.