Another summer, another High Point Market successfully completed. With Market drawing thousands of guests to High Point, the event provides economic support and growth for our city’s businesses (after all, Market guests want to enjoy all of the incredible eats, drinks, and shops that we all get to enjoy all year long!). But bringing 75,000 people to High Point and hosting a trade show that spans 180 buildings in our city is no easy feat. We’ve shared in the past how much the City of High Point has to rally together to make Market happen smoothly each year – but this year we looked specifically at the safety precautions and emergency preparedness that goes into keeping Market guests and High Point citizens safe during one of the state’s largest events of the year.
And if you asked Captain Mark Lane, captain of the High Point Police Department, one of the key facets in making High Point Market happen so safely, he’d say, “relationships.”
Captain Lane has been helping to make sure Market happens safely for years now, implementing a variety of procedures, taskforces, and plans. He points out to a layer of trust between each High Point team – High Point Market Authority, High Point Police Department, High Point Fire Department, the Department of Transporation, and more – as the key to making those plans and procedures run correctly. Each team in our city stands unified in providing expertise in each of their respective fields and stepping back to let other teams lead when needed.
“Through the course of developing those relationships across the city, you know who needs to do what,” he explains. “There are definite plans in place, steps in place, and processes we follow, but relationships are a big part of it.”
James Vervaecke, HPPD Special Projects Coordinator, agrees that the collaboration that happens across High Point’s teams is what makes this and other events in the city so successful.
“We have a unified command with representatives from most major departments,” James explains. He adds that when issues arise, the teams are quick to let the right branch of the city take the lead, rather than try to force their own agendas. “Whoever is in the lead, takes the lead, and other partners assist in any way possible. It makes it really proficient and efficient when we work together during Market.”
Perry Hall, Batallion Chief at the High Point Fire Department and Emergency Manager for the City of High Point, adds that the level of coordination that has to take place for an event the size of Market happens on the state, city, and local level. And the teams have to be ready to face emergencies of all kinds – from gas leaks to freak storms, to external threats, to current events.
Tammy Nagem, Chief Operating Officer at High Point Market Authority adds just how much preparedness takes place in the realm of weather.
“Sometimes Perry will let me know that we have a 30-minute window before a storm hits,” Tammy explains, noting how she and her internal team then have to work to make sure everyone at Market can safely get where they need to go.
Over the years of High Point Market, the Market Authority and City teams have learned how to iterate, innovate, and prepare for any incident before it even happens.
Their system, Everbridge, used in concert with Guilford County Emergency Management, allows for communications across channels and teams, even alerting those working deep in the Market buildings who may be isolated from the “outside world.”
“We identify a lot of problems when they’re small, so we don’t have to attack them when they’re big,” James explains. “It takes a lot of small things throughout the year to make Market so successful.”
Tammy agrees, saying that Market safety has to stay top of mind all year round.
“We don’t just wake up one week before Market starts and ask our police and fire departments to put together a plan!” she laughs.
Instead, the City of High Point ensures that every year, the safety management of the event gets a little better. And while no amount of planning can prepare the team completely for some of the shocking things that have happened over the years in our nation that have a ripple effect to High Point Market – from 9/11 to the Boston Marathon Bombing, to tornadoes and hurricanes, to COVID-19 – our City works hard each and every day to protect our city and our guests who come from all over the world.
“We always come back after the event with after-action reviews on what went well, what we can do to improve for the next time, and who else needs to be involved,” says Chief Hall.
“We have a lot of resources on hand to deal with a number of expected and unexpected problems,” adds Captain Lane. “You can’t wait till you have a problem to start getting the right people there.”
Ultimately, it’s the expertise of each person represented in the safety and emergency planning of High Point Market that can give the High Point community a reason to sleep easy. And they showcase to people from all over the world just how competent and expert High Point is when it comes to handling this kind of event.
“Years ago, an officer told me, ‘You’re not in charge,’” Tammy recalls, noting how thankful she was that when it comes to safety, High Point’s finest take charge and make sure every single individual in the city is being well cared for and protected. “These guys are standing behind us at Market. They do this every day, and I know I’m going to get really good advice from experts.”
Each representative of the Market safety and emergency task force team agrees that preparing for Market safety each year has strengthened the level of safety preparedness that our High Point City entities provide us all year round. From the Uncle Sam Jam to the Christmas parade, to the John Coltrane Festival, and more, Market gives High Point the expertise needed to make every event a safe and happy success.
And like Captain Lane says, relationship and trust between a city, its departments, its visitors, and its citizens, makes an entire community run a little more smoothly.
Discover our High Points,
The HPD Team
Images Courtesy of High Point Market Authority