A few weeks ago I attended World Workplace along with over 60 of my closest Atlanta Chapter friends and thousands of IFMA friends from around the world. Held in Denver, Colorado, the Mile High City will go down in history as one of my most memorable World Workplace conferences ever.
On Friday evening, after the Atlanta chapter swept up not one, but TWO awards (Professional Development and Web Communications), I had just returned to my hotel room at the Hyatt Regency. I was feeling very proud to represent the only chapter that received two awards this year! I appreciated and still appreciate all of our members – this is YOUR chapter, and these are YOUR Awards.
Ok, so I am in my room getting ready for bed, counting down the minutes until I get to see the love of my life, my son, Conner. I finally fall asleep only to be awakened at 3am to what I thought was my loud, obnoxious neighbors. I kept hearing them banging on the door in the room next to me. I kept thinking, “let your roommate in…he’s forgotten his room key!” Next I hear, “Denver PD!” I was thinking, “Wow, my neighbors are SO loud & obnoxious that they got the cops called on them!” Then they knocked on my door. When I opened up, there stood hotel security, the Denver Police Department and the Denver Fire Department. They said, “Ma’am, we are evacuating the building. Please exit immediately.” Of course, they cannot tell me WHY they are evacuating the building. So, I put on some sweats, grab my purse then head out the door. A fireman greeted me at the elevator and said, “We have received a credible bomb threat.” I realize this is no drill….this is real.
As I am leaving the hotel lobby, there is a fireman at the doors giving everyone blankets as they walk outside. It’s Denver….it’s cold at night! As I am walking down the street, following everyone to who knows where, I call my good friend, Dee Raya, who is staying in the same hotel but 14 floors below me. Since they evacuated the hotel from the top down, she had no clue what was going on and I’m pretty sure she thought I had gone temporarily insane. Once she looked outside and saw all of the emergency vehicles and people walking down the street in bathrobes, she believed me!
After walking a few blocks, passing numerous roads blocked off with caution tape, I finally get to my destination. As I was walking inside, members of the hotel staff were handing out bottles of water and snacks. I find a warm place to sit and wait for Dee to join me. About 1,100 people are evacuated to Denver Center for the Performing Arts a few blocks from the hotel. As we sit and wait, we were kept updated by the Chief of Police, Fire Chief and Hotel General Manager. A couple hours pass and we finally get word that we are allowed to go back to our rooms. I made it back to my hotel room just in time to gather my belongings and head to the airport. It was reported that a small explosion was heard just before 5am as officials used a “disruptor” to take care of the device. Whatever it was, police would not say.
While this was an unpleasant & scary situation, it could not have been handled any better. The hotel was evacuated quickly, safely and in an orderly fashion dress. Hotel officials kept track of each hotel guest as they were evacuated & each one was accounted for. We were kept warm, comfortable, and given food & water. Officials kept us informed during the entire situation, offered to pack up our suitcases and mail them to us in case we didn’t have time to go back to the hotel before our flight departed. We were also offered shuttles to the airport.
As you could imagine, this hotel was filled with conference attendees, most of them facility managers or somehow connected to facility management. We are all familiar with emergency preparedness and evacuation plans. I sent an email to the Hyatt Regency General Manager and key employees praising them for what a wonderful job they had done. It was obvious they had an emergency plan in place and in my opinion, it was flawless.
Does your facility have an emergency plan in place? If so, when is the last time you updated the plan or practiced? You never know when something like this could happen at your facility. If you need help, I suggest visiting the new & improved Knowledge Library which was unveiled at World Workplace. Here you can find videos, documents, articles & research written and reviewed by industry-leading professionals. Click on this link to begin your search on hundreds of topics, such as how to create the best emergency plan for your facility: http://community.ifma.org/knowledge_library/
As always, I am here to serve you and your Chapter. I welcome your comments, feedback and suggestions. Have a fantastic November and Happy Thanksgiving!