Table of Contents:
1.) General Introduction, purpose and POV of this manual.
2.) Pre-production, during set construction.
3.) Safety supplies to have on hand.
4.) Uniform Safety Protocols
- Vehicle Safety Protocols
- Shooting the transportation of “contestants”
- Fire Safety Protocols during prep phase & pre shoot
- Fire Safety Protocols during shoot phase
- Safe use of “Open Flame” or heat sources other than ovens
- Guidelines for the safe use of smoke/fog for lighting
- Substances that must not be used for effect
- Substances deemed safe for effect
- The proper protocols for smoke/fog effect
5.) Kitchen Safety
- Injuries in the kitchen
- Kitchen walkthroughs, when are they appropriate?
- Culinary and safety protocols
6.) Medical incidents
- Incident reports (from non AD’s)
7.) Inclement Weather
- Weather and pre-production
- Severe Weather Protocols
8.) Designing an effective EAP
- Beginning your EAP
- An example of a partial EAP
Introduction, general purpose & the POV of this manual:
The creation of a television show is a team effort. Even as professionals (sometimes especially the professionals) lose sight of the fact that the everyday tasks we accomplish are extremely dangerous.
In pre-production, during production & during wrap incredible amounts of power (electric) are not only at our disposal, but literally cabled around and above us. Multiple gas-run generators are a common sight and often taken for granted.
Radial saws nail guns, table saws, circular saws, power drills, & air compressors are normal in our world. They are also amongst the top ten most dangerous power tools[i].
Our crews work from scaffoldings, scissor lifts, and occasionally condors. Not only would a fall from the heights we work be fatal, a falling object could easily cause death to a fellow crewmember. And should a worker experience a medical emergency while elevated in such a piece of gear, a rescue could prove difficult at best.
During production hot lights are often running for long periods near potentially flammable materials.
We also often underestimate what may be the most dangerous activity we engage in. Almost every shoot day a crew is ushered into 15-passenger van and under severe time deadlines shuttled from location to location. In the United States alone roughly 43,000 people a year lose their lives in auto accidents. There are approximately 6.4 million auto accidents a year[ii].
This is a small sampling of the dangers that we face and take for granted every day. The purpose of this document is to establish protocols and encourage the creation of show-specific & situation-specific EAP’s (emergency action protocols/plans).
I would also submit this manual is unique in the fact that our genre itself is unique. We don’t often have the luxury of working with actors who have through the years developed a sense not only of etiquette, but of what is or isn’t safe behavior on set. We don’t often have the benefit of stuntmen, armorers’, shop stewards or classically trained first assistant directors. We work with real people, professionals in their own right (often as chef’s or designers) and we put them in extraordinary situations. Both the competitive nature of people (contestants) and of the situations (challenges) we produce can culminate into a perfect storm of safety issues that require not only such a manual to exist but for clear-headed effective people to take decisive action in times of uncertainty to protect those contestants & crew who sometimes blindly, trust their own safety to us.
This manual is geared towards creating EAP’s and addressing situations encountered within the realm of “elf” shows. It is largely geared towards situations associated with cooking shows. These guidelines are borrowed heavily from the “Team Hogan Training Manual”. To illustrate the point I am making, this manual will not address the following:
- Guidelines regarding the use of helicopters in motion pictures
- Helicopter (take-off/landing)
- Helicopter (External load)
- Recommendations for diving operations
- Guidelines for the safe use of motorcycles
- Parachuting and skydiving
- Recommendations for safety with edged and piercing props
As comical as the above may sound, my point is that guidelines exist for all these events (and yes, they are part of the ADTH manual). However a lot of what we do is every bit as dangerous and requires safety planning. Accident prevention should be primarily the responsibility of the company, supported by production and the absolute focus of the AD team.
Nonetheless, when accident prevention fails, the design & implementation of the EAP falls primarily on the AD team.
In the event of a life-threatening injury, or multiple injuries, we as a group have to rely on our AD team, effective clear no-nonsense communication, immediate and simultaneous activation of 911, the set-medic & the implementation of a clear well thought out EAP is our absolute-best shot at stopping a bad situation from becoming worse.
Lets move on to prep and productions role in safety before the arrival of the AD team.
Production guidelines, during set construction (prep):
At a minimum, a four-foot perimeter should be kept clear around the interior of the stage walls. Make sure all exit doors are unobstructed, unlocked and capable of being opened from the inside.
Good housekeeping should be maintained at all times. Walkways and work areas are to be kept clear of materials, trash, equipment and debris.
All decorative set materials should be flame retardant or made of non- combustible materials if such materials will be exposed to hot lamps, fire effects or other ignition sources.
Post & enforce “No Smoking” signs. Observe designated smoking areas and always extinguish cigarettes in the appropriate containers (butt cans).
Fire equipment (hydrants, extinguishers, sprinklers, hoses, etc.) must be accessible at all times.
Adequate ventilation must be taken into consideration. There is a formula for the amount of ventilation
Always be aware of personnel working above and below you. All overhead equipment fixtures and props should be properly secured.
All cables should be neatly routed. Cables in walkways and traffic areas should be covered with mats and/or cable crossovers.
Wearing appropriate clothing is also a part of safety protocols. Closed toe shoes, rubber soles etc. etc. it is the primary responsibility of HOD’s to determine an appropriate dress code.
An understanding of the load-in schedule and the workload meant to be accomplished on the day by the LP or PM should lead to the decision to employ or not to employ a set-medic.
Safety supplies to have on hand:
Aside from the employment of a set medic, a healthy supply of the following items should be on hand, in the office, under the PM’s care:
Production should be in possession of two (2) good first aid kits (one for the field, one for the stage). These kits should be of “medic” quality (cloth jump bags) and contain the following:
- Alcohol sterile prep squares
- Bottle of high grade (over 70%) isopropyl rubbing alcohol
- Bottle of betadine
- Bottle of hydrogen peroxide
- A CPR mask with hard case
- 10 pairs of quality latex gloves
- 1 burn sheet (58×90)
- 2 boxes of assorted size band-aids (expect to get more during prod)
- 3 boxes of finger cots (expect to get more during prod.)
- 2 abdominal pads (5×9)
- 1 trauma dressing (12×30)
- 2 boxes 4×4 sterile dressings
- 1 box of 3×3 sterile dressings
- 2 blood stoppers
- 2 gauze rolls 3”, 2 gauze rolls sterile 4” (4 rolls total)
- 1 roll of waterproof tape (both ½ inch and 1 inch 2 rolls total)
- 1 Ace bandage 3”, 1 Ace bandage 4” (2 total, sealed)
- 2 Triangle bandages (cravats’) 40”
- 4 eye pads (large)
- 1 petroleum gauze (3X9)
- 1 pack of single use antibiotic cream pads (squares)
- Sting swabs (10 pack)
- 2 instant cold packs
- 1 40 oz (or larger) eye wash
- 1 pair of EMT shears
- 1 bandage scissors
aa. 1 splinter forceps 4.5”
bb. Disposable penlight
- Bottle of purell gel
In closing, when the kits are accessed and used, the used products should be noted and a list turned into the PM for immediate replenishment of the kit.
It was not an accident that the extensive list above didn’t include aspirin, Tylenol, emergen-c, airborne or halls cough drops. I believe these should be supplied separately (perhaps by crafty or production) for three reasons. The first reason is that I am unsure as to company liability regarding dispensation of medication. The second is that the high demand for those non-emergency items will contribute to rifling through our true emergency supplies creating a mess of what should be a tightly organized, clean kit. The third reason is that in a true crisis where I’ve needed use of a good first aid kit, I have never administered the above-mentioned items as part of a true emergency protocol.
In addition to the first aid kits (2) production should have:
- Quality eye protection (clear, ANSI certified safety glasses) a good rule of thumb is to have as many pairs as there are members of art & construction departments. Replenish and recollect as necessary
- Quality ear protection (earplugs, the orange one in the big bucket are fine)
- Respirator masks (not the TB patient paper ones, but the chemical filter, rubber ones, I would recommend at least 2)
- Multiple copies of our “Workers Compensation” forms ready for distribution.
Uniform Safety Protocols:
Uniform Safety Protocols are standards that should be maintained in a consistent manner in order to best ensure the safety of our cast and crew. These are not a part of an EAP as they are not situation specific. This is just the safest way to deal with events that could potentially become dangerous[iii].
Perhaps the most important thing we should as a group focus on. Transportation under tight deadlines while maintaining “story” is another situation unique to our genre.
“Story” never stops. So preparation is key to success. Within the AD team, the 2nd 2nd AD or the Key Set production assistant is the “Crew Chief” to the mobile unit.
It is the Crew Chiefs responsibility to work with the First AD to develop a transport plan. This transport plan includes the following:
- Assigning drivers to vehicle designations & destinations.
- Assigning crew to vehicles (on paper).
- Making sure maps are prepared for the drivers.
- Reviewing and seeking final approval of the transport plan with the 1st AD.
- Reviewing with the drivers their assignments of vehicles, crew, destinations and the route taken as well as safety protocols for driving to and from the destination.
- Assembling the caravan in proper and safe order.
- Receiving the final “ready-ready” from each individual vehicle and “flying” the unit.
- Only the crew chief has the authority to amend the planned route (in the event of construction, emergency action, excessive traffic).
It is the drivers’ responsibility to work with the crew chief and completely understand his or her role in the transport plan.
- The driver should know which vehicle they are assigned to and that vehicles’ radio designation.
- The driver should inspect that vehicle for interior and exterior damage. If there is any it should be reported to the crew chief immediately.
- The driver should visually inspect the headlights, turn signals, hazard lights, brake signals & doors on their vehicle.
- The driver should make sure they have enough gas.
- The interior of the 15 pass should be clean and free of debris including but not limited to empty water bottles, snack bags, old call sheets etc. etc.
- The driver is responsible for a cooler containing appropriate crafty for the length of the trip. The driver is not responsible for handing out crafty.
- When the driver receives his map and is part of the meeting with the crew chief (s)he needs to pay attention and know where they are going. If you don’t know how to get to where you are going, you as a driver should not get behind the wheel.
- Until it is crystal clear to you as a driver that your vehicle is in excellent working order, it is clean, safe and you know who you are taking and how you are getting to your final destination you have no business getting behind the wheel. This is your duty to safety as a driver.
- Once your vehicle is ready to accept crew, as a driver you should make sure your vehicle is marked with the appropriate designation. You should welcome your passengers.
- Under your vehicle designation should be a list of the crew you expect to see, you should have a copy of that manifest. In the event of additional passengers, the crew chief should be contacted before the passenger boards the vehicle.
- Once the AC’s have packed their gear and the rear door is closed, and you have welcomed your final passenger double check your manifest suggest seat belt usage, close your side doors and man your drivers seat.
- Lock your doors, start your vehicle. Adjust/Double check your mirrors.
- Remember, headlights on, radios off, climate appropriate.
- Let your crew chief know your vehicle (use your designation) is “ready-ready”
- Expect your crew chief to double-check your vehicle.
- Wait for your crew chief to “fly the unit”.
- Only the crew chief has the authority to amend the planned route (in the event of construction, emergency action, excessive traffic).
The caravan will obey all applicable local traffic laws. They will travel at or under the speed limit.
Questions, concerns, & comments should be directed to the crew chief. The crew chief will call vehicles by designations. Drivers will be expected to respond.
Please remember, radio communication is inherently unsafe during driving. This is only superseded by its use as a tool to communicate safety concerns to and from the crew chief.
I know, to the gentle untrained reader a lot of this may seem excessive. But this protocol is extremely effective for several reasons. It encourages active relationships between crew and transportation department. It encourages speed, and efficacy, as crew you know you are being timed, and counted. It instills a sense of organization as well as a sense of accountability for all involved.
But aside from the general effectiveness of this protocol; let’ talk about how this relates to safety and discuss a worst-case scenario.
Suppose during transport a motor vehicle accident occurs? Suppose an entire van (or two, or three) is full of injured crew and an EAP is activated. The crew chief knows immediately how many people are in our vehicles. The individual drivers (if uninjured) are also able to provide a number reckoning. This information is important to EMS & Production.
In some cases we are required to shoot the transportation of cast members to certain events. The basic safety protocols apply with stress to a few key points.
Operators must remain in their seat belts. In most vehicles the AC can secure the camera using a cinesaddle in a way that can obtain a static shot. The mixing bag can be placed in the trunk of the car.
The camera cannot be moved around during transport. The risk of distraction and or unintended physical interaction with the driver of the vehicle is too great.
The drivers of the picture vehicles are subject to all of the protocols for 15 pass drivers. They are also part of the crew chiefs responsibility.
While the director works with the first AD to get shots of picture vehicles; the picture drivers are still under the crew chiefs charge. Safety protocols still apply.
A final note about transportation of crew and shooting the transportation of crew:
Team Hogan offers advanced caravan training that includes topics not covered in this manual. As a member of Team Hogan you are encouraged to accept this training.
This is a “hot topic” especially on cooking shows. In can so easily be overlooked. And the consequences of an accident with open flame can end lives.
The EAP will outline the series of events and who is responsible for what in the event of a fire. But before we get to that, let’s talk about general fire safety.
The section of our safety guidelines entitled, “Production guidelines, during set construction (prep)” is part of our fire safety precautions. A clean set, free of debris with an open walkway and contained cable runs make a hasty escape from set an easier process.
In addition to the above, the following protocols should be followed:
Fire Safety Protocols during prep and pre shoot:
- During the construction of the kitchen set all applicable state and local fire codes should be adhered to.
- All use, handling, storage and transportation of bulk fuel, compressed gas cylinders, and other materials used to create open flame shall be in compliance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations. As convoluted as this sounds we would all rather not find out what happens should say NYPD find our culinary department traveling through a tunnel with dozens of propane cylinders[iv].
- Even if it’s not part of the applicable codes, a separate “Gas shut-off valve” should be installed a great distance away from the kitchen. This gas valve should be clearly marked, easily reached and activated. When activated, it should shut all gas off in the kitchen. The AD department before the first cook should test this valve.
- Ventilation is a large part of fire safety in the kitchen. A lack of proper ventilation leads to excessive smoke and heat and by itself can lead to an unsafe working environment.
- Adequate ventilation is a matter of power to room size. A good working equation for a hood located over the heat source (our preferred chef method) is 400 CFM (cubic feet of air per minute) per 1 square foot of floor space[v]. However, Bill Egle is the end source and last word in effective kitchen installs. In my experience, I have never had an issue with smoke removal or fire safety under his installations.
Fire Safety Protocols during shoot phase:
- During the shoot, only the culinary department and others authorized by the culinary department are responsible for and allowed to “fire up” the kitchen.
- Firing up the kitchen includes but is not limited to pre-warming the ovens, firing up the fryers. Checking the pilot lights and range tops, chilling the blast freezer etc. etc.
- It is important that the culinary department either wait for the 1st AD to give the order to “fire up the kitchen” or for the culinary department to notify 1st AD that the kitchen is or has been “fired up”. It is the duty of the AD department to notify other staff that the kitchen is “hot”.
- Extreme care must be exercised in a “hot” kitchen. Work via lift should not be performed in a hot kitchen. The minimum number of people needed to operate the set should be present in a “hot kitchen”.
Safe use of “Open Flame” or heat sources other than ovens:
- The Production Company (Producers) shall make sufficient advanced notification of the use of “open flame” to all appropriate departments in order to safely plan the sequences. Any “contestant” or crew who may be working around an “open flame” shall be notified. This includes sufficient notice to include a note on the current callsheet
- It is not appropriate for “open flame” to be an afterthought
- Prior to use, any required licenses and/or permits for open flame shall be obtained from the appropriate authorities having jurisdiction
- Sets, equipment, props, wardrobe, make-up, hair supplies, etc., that will be in close proximity to open flame must be prepared accordingly and/or should be made of flame retardant material. All sets, equipment, props, wardrobe, etc., must be made available in advance to the designated responsible person for evaluation (either HOD of Culinary & or AD), to establish placement, and if necessary, for testing
- When “open flame” (defined as, but not limited to torches, candles, sterno, electric or gas portable ranges, induction circulators, hot plates, BBQ’s gas, propane or charcoal, Hibachi’s, fireplaces, tea lights etc. etc.) are used on set such use shall be under controlled conditions with due regard to safety
- The 1st AD should be notified of placement and intent to “open flame” on set
- The department that ignites (be it Art, Culinary, or Lighting) is responsible for extinguishing (except in an emergency extinguish situation)
- Prior to work with open flame, the 1st AD must develop emergency protocols (EAP) and contingency plans, including identifying emergency fire suppression equipment, venting of low lying areas and personnel needs. All equipment shall be checked to verify that it is in good operating condition.
- Individuals using this equipment must have proper training in its use and limitations
- Sufficient fire suppression equipment (such as charged extinguishers and fire hoses) must be manned, ready for use and placed at an appropriate safe distance from the open flame during testing, rehearsal and filming
- Designated personnel performing fire suppression activities (per EAP) during testing, rehearsal and filming must be properly clothed and wear appropriate protective clothing
- “No Smoking” signs shall be posted in all areas where fuel and compressed gas cylinders are stored and handled
- Appropriate fire watch, as determined by the 1AD, should be maintained after each open flame event
- In the event of an emergency the EAP should be activated, and furthermore, only those designated with emergency response roles should enter the open flame area
- After the activation of the EAP (which will include evacuation of set), entry to the set can only be granted again by the appropriate agency (Fire Department) or by consensus of LD, G&E, and 1st AD
Guidelines for the safe use of smoke/fog for lighting:
- When smoke or fog effects are to be created on any set, it is the Executive Producer and Directors duty to provide prior notification as to use and type of effect used. The 1st AD must be made aware and the call sheet shall state that smoke or fog effects are to be used the following day.
- The use of the effect must not be an afterthought
The following substances must not be used for effect:
a.) Known human carcinogens including any particulates of combustion, including tobacco smoke (except where such smoke results from the smoking of tobacco by an actor in a scene).
b.) Fumed and hydrolyzed chlorides;
c.) Ethylene glycol and Diethylene glycol;
d.) Mineral oils;
e.) Aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons including petroleum distillates;
f.) Hexachloroethane and Cyclohexylamine;
The following substances have been deemed safe for use:
a.) Propylene glycol,
b.) Butylene glycol,
c.) Polyethylene glycol and Triethylene glycol.
d.) Other glycol products should not be used (see c above);
e.) Glycerin products [Caution: Glycerin and the listed glycol products should not be heated beyond the minimum temperature necessary to aerosolize the fluid. In no event should glycerin or glycol be heated above 700 degrees Fahrenheit];
f.) Cryogenic gases (e.g., carbon dioxide, liquid nitrogen) may be used but care must be exercised to avoid depleting oxygen levels, especially in confined areas. Use care also to avoid adverse effects of cooled air on exposed persons.
Proper protocols for smoke/fog effect:
- When creating smoke or fog effects on interior sets, Producer(s) shall make available on request respirators of the appropriate type
- The person responsible for providing respirators shall be designated
- When smoke or fog effects are utilized on any interior set, all non-essential personnel shall be excluded from the set. Whenever possible, personnel shall be vacated from all dressing rooms located on the stage Minors shall be vacated.
- When creating smoke or fog effects on any set, Director/Producer(s) will utilize the minimum concentration necessary to achieve the desired effect
- Prior to “smoking” creative will request “smoke”. 1st AD should approve the use of smoke and initiate cross-broadcast of smoke effect (a necessary part of an EAP for smoke effects).
- Use of effect without notifying 1st AD could result in a time and money consuming unnecessary evacuation of set among other negative effects.
- The set needs to be “flushed clear” ventilated of the effect periodically
The safety of the kitchen is the culmination of several departments. G&E provides power to the kitchen and is responsible for reliable safe power to use the appliances and power the lights we need to make our show safely.
The Culinary department is responsible for making sure the appliances we offer are in good working order and assessing the skill sets of the chefs utilizing the gear. Culinary is responsible for ensuring that the appliances are being used in accordance with the way they were intended and can work in conjunction with the AD department to shut down unsafe behavior immediately.
A Kitchen walkthrough, post reveal to contestants is a must after the first time the kitchen is revealed. It is necessary again when a major appliance is introduced. It is also necessary anytime the HOD of the culinary dept. deems it so.
The 1st AD is responsible for making sure that interdepartmental communication is efficient, that the medic is aware and in place before a cook (unless deemed unnecessary by the EAP).
1st AD is responsible for a crosscheck and verification that the critical departments are ready to safely execute and capture on tape our event.
The 1st AD should also seek opinions from professionals about questionable behavior from “contestants”. For example, talking to HOD/culinary about how fast should we allow a chef to move with a knife in his hand? Is Styrofoam a suitable container for liquid nitrogen? Is that a safe use of a torch?
The 1st AD is also responsible for activating the EAP and for crisis management should the need arise.
Injuries in the kitchen:
Injuries in the kitchen run the spectrum from a nick of the finger to damage to an artery or severe burn. Therefore it’s important to adhere to the following protocols:
- Pre-first cook of the season, the 1st AD and the Medic should designate a clean dry area to place a box of strip band-aids, finger cots and latex gloves
- The contestants should know where these supplies are. They should feel free to bandage their own minor wounds for sanitary reasons.
- Before every cook, it is the AD’s responsibility to do a walkie-check with the medic on channel one and make sure they understand the nature of the activity to take place
- It is recommended that the Medic stay in either Video Village (first to know where, who and the nature of the injury) or be stationed just outside of set.
- If the wound appears more than minor (bleeding cannot be controlled via band-aid, or if the producer/director/Any AD Team member deems it a significant injury) the Medic should be called to set immediately.
- Medics are never subject to “lock-ups”
- The Medic and 1st AD work in tandem to activate the EAP and decide the proper course of action
- Production should be prepared with a responsible escort, and a copy of the workers comp forms
- Production should be prepared to work as an advocate for the injured crewmember. Ensuring they receive appropriate medical attention. The escort is also responsible for timely updates to their direct supervisor
- The PM should notify the EIC in real time of the injury
- The EIC should decide when, if and who will notify the crewmembers emergency contact.
- The 1st Assistant Directors priority will be to use all necessary resources at his disposal to triage the situation until it is resolved either by emergency services or set-medic. Then in accordance with EAP protocol he will file an incident report as part and parcel of the PR.
Culinary and Safety protocols:
- It is the duty of HOD/Culinary to familiarize themselves with our safety guidelines.
- The HOD/Culinary is an invaluable resource to work directly with the 1st AD to develop ongoing safety guidelines and Emergency Action Protocols/Plans (EAP’s).
- It is imperative that HOD/culinary agree with and comply with “open flame” and transport of flammable material guidelines.
- It is the responsibility of HOD/Culinary to instruct their crew in our safety guidelines.
On set invariably there will be accidents. People will become injured. Amongst the most common of mistakes is administration of improper first aid. The old “hey, he’s having a seizure, lets shove something in his mouth!”.
Let me be clear on this topic. If you are not a trained medical professional, as well intentioned as you are there is a very large chance that you can make an injury worse than it needed to be. Your duties as a Good Samaritan and someone who wants to help would be best served by following this protocol:
In case of a fellow crew member injury (off set, on the job):
- Utilize common sense. If it is a life threatening injury activate 911 immediately.
- Follow and abide by all of the 911 operators orders and requests.
- Call for the set medic (if available)
- If you can do so without hindering the rescue effort call your HOD and report the incident, then utilize channel one and report the incident to the AD department or to production.
- From here the protocols remain the same as “Injuries in the kitchen”
- If it is not a life threatening injury, disregard activating 911 and abide the protocols from “call the set medic”.
In case of a “Contestant” injury (off set, on the job):
- Follow all of the above protocols.
- Post rescue effort completion there is an immediate need to notify the EP/EIC.
In closing, we also should try to remember it is not our responsibility to diagnose the injured persons condition. It is not for us to guess if it is a pre-existing condition, to ask them about the status of their health insurance or ask other personal questions. It is simply your duty to follow the appropriate guidelines mentioned above.
Incident Reports from non-AD’s:
It is the AD’s or if the AD is not present the highest-ranking producers obligation to fill out an incident report and turn it into the production manager. The incident report should include:
- Date, time and location of incident.
- The names of the people involved in the incident.
- Your perception of what happened.
- The actions you took to rectify the situation.
AD’s will turn this report in as part of the Daily Production Report.
Often in our exciting and challenging career path we find ourselves in exotic locales, or if not exotic, at least unfamiliar.
It is important to understand that weather by itself can be very dangerous. It can be deadly. It can cause an amazing amount of L&D.
Weather and pre-production:
Before you even step on the plane research can be done into local weather patterns. On the Internet, you can find the past, current and projected weather patterns.
After analysis of these patterns the LP can make an informed decision as to if they want to pay for a call service to monitor weather or stick to open-source material.
Severe Weather Protocols:
This guideline identifies “severe weather” as the safety considerations that should be addressed when working outdoors in areas where there is clear and present potential for thunderstorms, lightning & flash flooding. Extreme winds, large hail, tornadoes and hurricanes. Extreme cold weather conditions and last but not least; safety considerations for the prevention of heat illness.
- The design of the EAP is critical for weather systems. It must designate a person who is responsible for monitoring potential inclement weather by commercial weather services, television, and radio station, newscasts and open-source means.
- The EAP needs to include redundant methods of communication with HOD’s and responsible members of the AD team. In the event of severe weather one must assume that cell phone networks might fail, wet walkies will fail.
- The communication methods should reflect the conditions and circumstances at the site.
- Other EAP location/condition specific plans include methods and routes of evacuation. Common Rally Points (meeting areas).
- The EAP should establish a means for head counts of contestants and crew
- The EAP should delegate specific HOD’s responsible for equipment shut down, gear stowage and/or removal.
- If there is even a possibility of EAP/Severe weather protocol, a safety meeting with HOD’s should be held and the EAP should be verbalized.
Designing an effective emergency action protocol/plan (EAP):
Designing an EAP is a daunting task. It is also a dangerous one. The person placed in charged of designing & implementing an EAP should have not only the courage to take action in times of crisis but the knowledge base to take the correct action.
They should be a trained, experienced, leader who is well versed in crisis management. They need to be surrounded by competent people who understand and will execute to the letter, the EAP when activated.
I say this somber truth in hopes that it will be heard. Far worse than no EAP, is an ill-conceived, poorly executed bad EAP.
A crew of people following a well rehearsed, well-communicated, bad EAP developed by committee and consensus will not fare well.
In a crowd of panic stricken people with no EAP. At least a few people with experience in crisis management may survive.
This is why so often, it is industry standard for EAP’s to be developed by 1st AD’s[vi] with input from HOD’s and when applicable stunt/sfx/and professional rescuers[vii]
Beginning your EAP:
You must first sit and look at the job you are on and ask yourself what are the hazards? What is the worst-case scenario that I can envision? And of those worst-case scenarios, which are most likely to happen?
- Where (what region) am I? Are there weather threats? Critter threats? Crime threats?
- What activities will we be engaging in and what dangers are associated with them? Are we racing vehicles? My EAP needs to include MVA (motor vehicle accident protocols) as well as fire and fuel combustion protocols.
- What resources do I currently have in play and are they sufficient to deal with the worst-case scenario? Is it time to seek out additional resources?
- How well trained is my staff? What are their actual capabilities in times of crisis?
From there a written list of your realistic threats can be generated, and from that depending on threat and terrain, primary, secondary, and even third tiered EAP’s can be developed. Assess what will need to be done to ensure safety. What would be desirable to be done. And what would be the ultimate best outcome of the disaster. Assign a task list that’s been prioritized. Then assign a person to each task list.
Partial example of an EAP:
So suppose you’re a 1st AD employed on a reality show shooting in Texas on a ranch during the rainy season.
You have identified as a legitimate threat the possibility of flash flood.
1.) Pre-shoot you have researched and understood that the primary cause of flash floods is slow-moving thunderstorms.
2.) You understand flash floods can occur in minutes to hours after excessive slow moving rainfall.
3.) You understand you are in a high-risk location with a past record of flash floods.
You have been made aware of a slow moving thunderstorm not too far away. You have activated a portion of your EAP and your second AD’s primary focus is media monitoring.
You have notified your 2nd 2nd that a portion of the EAP has been activated. You make him aware of the threat “Flash Flood”.
Your Key-Set PA has begun a radio cross-channel broadcast of the potential EAP.
Because you were aware of this danger the Contestants and the crew are aware of your primary rally point and your 2nd 2nd has already begun to assemble a caravan following proper caravan procedures.
You are all (AD Team and HOD’s) aware of the details of the EAP and potential problems with flash floods. They include:
- Crew and equipment could become trapped or stranded.
- Escape routes may be damaged and/or blocked.
- Equipment & personnel could be covered by water, mud or debris.
- Mud slides
And it happens. Your 2nd AD alerts you that the national weather service has issued a flash flood warning for your area. You make a decision. It’s time to activate the “Flash Flood” EAP.
The Key PA begins the cross broadcast confirming all HOD are aware the Flash Flood EAP is in effect. All crew without designated with emergency response roles
Are to report to the “Primary Rally Point” where trained AD/PA’s are following proper caravan procedures and taking charge of the crew.
According to your EAP the emergency response roles are:
- Secure equipment and all electrical power.
- Remove all Contestants and crew from elevated equipment.
- Remove all Contestants and crew from set.
- As the 1st AD receive the transport plan from your crew chief, is all of your crew accounted for?
Your actions as the 1st AD are in accordance with your EAP:
- Get in the lead vehicle with your crew chief. As planned your route steers clear of potential slide areas next to hillsides or edges, or cliffs!
- As you follow your planned route you come across moving water of an indeterminate speed and depth.
- You order your crew chief to direct the caravan to the secondary route.
- You arrive at your “safe” destination (hotel/shelter area).
- You, your crew chief and your drivers take a final reckoning of your contestants and crew numbers and either turn them over to emergency services as needed or sequester them to the safe area until further notice
- The first AD makes contact with the highest ranking non-present member of the company to deliver a situation report and request resources for either evacuation or makes a plan to continue the shoot later based on the latest weather reports.
Department Heads (HOD’s) and Safety guidelines:
In closing, perhaps legally a company and certain representatives are more “responsible” for safety. But at the risk of sounding clichéd, safety is no accident.
- HOD’s are expected to read, understand, and comply with our safety guidelines
- HOD’s are expected to indoctrinate their subordinates into our safety guidelines and ensure adherence to stated guidelines.
- HOD’s are encouraged to discuss openly with the 1st AD or EIC ideas or amendments to the safety guidelines.
- HOD’s are obligated to report violations of the safety guidelines to the 1st AD or higher if satisfaction is not achieved.
1.) I took excerpts directly from the “Team Hogan training manual/Safety Section”
2.) I drew heavily on my experiences as both a graduate of the DGAPTP/ADTP (Directors Guild Producer Training Plan/ Assistant Director Training Program) as well as my experiences as a NYC AEMT-P (Lic. # 174942). The DGA 1st AD position sets the bar for safety standards on set.
3.) I also utilized the DGA’s website Document/Safety as a resource.
4.) CSATF/AMPTP; the CSATF is a resource for bulletins and current safety information across many spectrums
5.) The American Red Cross & OSHA OSHA/CA guidelines were used to develop first aid kit
6.) My experiences on set were used to develop the first aid kit
[i] According to Forbes Magazine “The Most Dangerous Power Tools” 12/10
[ii] According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA)
[iii] Guidelines from industry standards set by the DGA & From ADTH TM
[iv] According to “Woodall’s” 2007 rules of the road state-by-state
[vi] According to Warner Brothers “Safety responsibilities of 1st AD” (http://wbsafety.com/whi/positions/1st%20AD.pdf)
[vii] According to “The Complete Film Production Handbook” focal press 2001
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