A Tragic Accident – What Can We Do Better?

Recent Tragedy In Orlando Highlights Need To Review Policies And Procedures

The Graves family of Elkhorn, NE was doing what millions of families do each year when tragedy struck. A vacation gone awry; no one saw it coming. The evening was spent watching an outdoor movie at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa when around 9:00 p.m. two-year-old Lane Graves waded into a nearby lagoon in about a foot of water and was attacked by an alligator. Matt Graves, the boy’s father, jumped in to try to save him. His mother and other witnesses also tried to assist in saving him, but they were too late.

This was a tragic accident that begs the question, was it “unforeseen?” As one who is not an attorney and not involved in any direct knowledge of this accident, I certainly would not want to weigh in on what might be found in the event there is litigation. Was Disney’s “no swimming” sign appropriate? Were alligators known to be inhabiting that lake? Either way, my condolences go out to the family and everyone involved for having to endure such a horrific experience. It is hard to fathom that this occurred when the Graves family was supposed to be creating life-long memories on their vacation.

Each day, America’s hoteliers, restaurateurs, night club operators and attraction managers accept responsibility for the health and safety of millions of men, women and children. These operators must also accept the possibility of an accident that will likely bring public attention upon themselves, their property and their guests. When an event happens, operators must communicate effectively with their guests, team members, the media and public safety officials. Once a crisis occurs, the media and the public are going to want answers as to why it happened, who was involved, when it happened, and let’s be honest, who was to blame. Every property, regardless of size, needs an emergency response and preparedness plan for the aftermath of an attack that includes the following:

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