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First Responders Play Key Role in Convention Center Events

They are the unsung heroes of the hundreds of successful events held at the San Diego Convention Center. Somedays, you see them. Most times, you don't. And that's just how they like it.

On Thursday, September 14, close to 40 first responders from a variety of agencies including federal and local partners, were invited to the San Diego Convention Center – not for work or security needs – but for an appreciation breakfast. The 1st Annual First Responders' Appreciation Breakfast was organized by the San Diego Convention Center's Director of Public Safety and Technology Josh Layne.

"The importance of our relationship with our first responders is one that we never take for granted," said Layne. "When we need something, the first responders come running. This gathering was our chance for the convention center team to welcome them into the building, give them a big thank you for everything they do for us, as well as have face-to-face time with our partners."

Among those in attendance were San Diego Police Department Chief Shelley Zimmerman and members of the SDPD, the FBI, Naval Criminal Investigative Services, Department of Homeland Security, Harbor Police as well as emergency dispatchers, San Diego Fire Services and special events teams.

The San Diego Convention Center has always placed a high value on security and safety. And safety is among the top reasons customers choose the San Diego Convention Center.

"San Diego as a destination sells itself quite often. The beauty of the region mixed with the attractions, walkability and abundance of hotel rooms is a main reason customers want to bring their business to the region," said President & CEO Clifford "Rip" Rippetoe. "But our clients also tell us they feel safe here and we owe that to the relationship our team has built with our first responders."

SDPD Chief Zimmerman and Harbor Police Chief John Bolduc both thanked the convention center staff for always working together, especially during "mega-events" like the MLB All-Star Game and FanFest as well as Comic-Con International.

"It's all about collaboration, communication and information sharing," said Layne. "We work together on any intelligence that comes in on either the convention center staff side or from local and federal authorities. Every single day, our job is to keep this building safe and we can't do it without our partners in law enforcement."

Regionally, the San Diego Convention Center is considered critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security. And they provide resources when needed for big events, and have offered advice and best practices as needed.

The success of our close relationship with first responders in San Diego is a model being used nationwide.

Layne was selected to serve on the International Association of Venue Managers Industry Security Council, whose goal is to establish recognized guidelines and smart practices through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Safety Act.

The initiative, co-created by the International Association of Venue Managers, Exhibition Services Contractor Association and the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, will ultimately provide enhanced security for venue employees and attendees nationwide.

Layne is the sole sitting convention center security professional selected out of 14 North American members.

"Here at the San Diego Convention Center, it comes down to relationship and information sharing while incorporating law enforcement into our events," said Layne. "Our daily practices will help set up other cities - that may not have the same resources – with guidelines for success. It also helps adopt guidelines that will work for convention centers nationwide."

Barbara Moreno's picture
Posted by Barbara Moreno, on September 14, 2017
Experience San Diego, Meeting Planners

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