[r85] State Fair tragedy equals changes (9/14/2012)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Start Date: 9/14/2012 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 9/14/2012 End Time: 11:59 PM

State Fair tragedy equals changes

It has been almost a year since the tragic State Fair collapse; a day that Hoosiers will never forget. The Hoosier spirit and resiliency to adversity is unmatched and could not have been more evident on the most unfortunate of days as concert goers ran to the stage to help those in need.  The outpouring of support for the victims of the collapse that ensued in the days to come showed our love and connectedness to our fellow Hoosiers.
 
As the dust settled from the tragedy, a time of reflection from all of those involved occurred to make sure a similar catastrophe would never happen again.  Commonly, changes are not too far behind after thinking through what policies and procedures failed. As expected, changes needed to be made and were implemented in time for this year’s fair.
 
The biggest change to the fair was to bring on a new Chief Operating Officer (COO) to make critical safety decisions.  The new COO is the person charged with the responsibility of canceling events and ordering evacuations of the grounds whenever severe weather becomes an issue.
 
There have also been changes made that will be immediately noticed by those attending this year’s fair. The headlining acts are performing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, formerly Conseco Fieldhouse, instead of the normal grandstand venue at the fairgrounds, the site of last year’s tragedy. Communication changes were also made to better inform fair goers of impending inclement weather.
 
Through examination, the State Fair’s emergency communication plan also needed improvement.  The afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 4 of this year’s fair resulted in the first test of the recently adopted communication.  Once again, like last year, Mother Nature had a mind of her own and at approximately 3 p.m. strong storms made their way onto the fairgrounds, but unlike last year, a team of meteorologists were on hand to track the storm’s progress.  Several announcements were also made prior to the storms arrival, warning fair attendees of the potential for dangerous weather and instructing them to seek shelter immediately.
 
A voice came over the public address system ordering people out of the grandstand.  It was not until the storm had completely passed that meteorologists and fair leadership deemed it completely safe to venture back out to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of the fair.

Progress has been made to the emergency operations of the State Fair in order to make for a safer, more enjoyable experience for all Hoosiers. Hoosiers are resolute in spirit and possess a steadfast will to learn from tragedies to prevent any such occurrences in the future. However, no matter the safety procedural changes implemented, we cannot and will not forget those who lost their lives and those who were touched by the horrible events which occurred one year ago. 

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Pond Report 8_8.docx