Thursday, June 16, 2011

Frantic Fans

Last night the Vancouver Police Department believed they were ready for the aftermath of the game seven between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins. For those of you who do not recognize those teams, the Canucks & Bruins are members of the National Hockey League (NHL). Vancouver finished the regular season number one, winning the President’s Trophy for the league’s best record. Boston finished number seven overall.

The NHL has thirty teams, split into two conferences (East and West). The Conferences further divide in to four divisions. Throughout the regular season, teams earn points for wins, ties, and overtime wins. In overtime, if the teams are tied, they go a five minute sudden death period with four instead of the usual five (plus a goalie) players on the ice. If after the overtime no one scores, they next to go a one-on-one shootout against the opposing team’s goalie until one of the two teams scores the extra goal.

In post season overtime is a regular twenty minute period of play with full five plays & goalie. If no one scores, the teams get fifteen minutes of rest and play another full twenty minutes. Four overtime periods is the record to date.

Last night, the Boston Bruins scored four goals, while the Vancouver Canucks were unable to get the puck in the net. Tim Thomas, the Bruins goalie stopped all 37 of the Canucks shots on goal. That is known as a shut-out. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup and Tim Thomas was named MVP of the play-offs.
If you had watched the game, you would have heard Gary Bettman, the NHL Comisshner, booed as he stepped on the ice to make the congratulary announcements and award the trophies. If that wasn’t bad enough, after the teams had cleared the ice, the fans left the stadium and the riots began.

Vancouver Police were ready for fan reaction of some sort. Too bad it was the negative kind. Gathered crowds yelled, threw objects, turned over and set police vehicles on fire, business vandalized and looted. Reports came in of over 100 injuries. Vancouver is not releasing the number of arrests as of yet.

When asked why the general feeling of the people was so angry, a fan replied, “They (Vancouver Canucks) didn’t show up (to play).” The fan obviously referring to the manner of the teams’ loss by not at least scoring one goal.

Fans celebrating or commiserating a team’s loss is nothing new. How many news reels have we seen noting a mass disturbance in Europe or South America over a soccer match? Campus police work closely with city or sheriff department during football season to handle the after-parties.

Pre-planning is the key to dealing with any possible large scale event. Administration staff should bring in field command staff of all involved departments: this includes law enforcement (mutual aid), fire, EMS, and the Communications Center. In the case of the Stanley Cup play-offs, as the series are a best-of-seven, one knows at least four games will be played (two in each of the participating teams cities).

Dispatch should be provided with a copy of the plan. Make sure the plan has phone numbers and radio channels & assignments. Which units will be in which area? Where is the Command Post? Who is the Incident Commander? Dispatchers handle radios every day; will you request a dispatcher to handle the radios at the Command Post? Do you have Tactical or Incident Command certified Dispatchers? If your agency does, make use of these personnel.

Don’t wait until the incident happens. Have a policy in place to coevr major incidents. When conducting drills, include the Communications Center personnel in the drill and the debriefing session. Bottom line, when a big event happens, your dispatchers will be handling the initial call, during the critical first phase. If those communications center personnel aren’t trained properly, an incident can quickly go from bad to nuclear.

Training doesn’t need to cost a fortune. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has free on-line classes. Unable to do on-line training? Give one person access. He or she can download the course-work, photocopy the material and pass it out. Tests must be done on-line. Classes include Incident Command System (ICS), National Incident Management System (NIMS), and hazardous materials response.

Other training is offered for minimal amounts via private firms, National Emergency Number Association (NENA), Associated Public Safety Communications Officials International, Inc (APCO), and possibly through your local EMS and/or fire training officers.

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