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Public safety plan in place for this week’s True/False Film Fest


A spokesperson for the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau said people are expected to begin arriving in Columbia on Wednesday or Thursday for the True/False Film Fest.

Megan McConachie said around 10,000-15,000 people usually flock to downtown for the festival, which takes place Thursday-Sunday.

McConachie said True/False has worked closely with the Convention and Visitors Bureau each year through its special events permit process.

"As it's grown, they have worked with us every year really closely and also with public safety officials to make sure that their safety plan is really robust for all of their facilities and all of their events," McConachie said.

Public safety plan

The Outdoor Special Event Public Safety Plan said venue and event staff undergo crowd management training with the Columbia Police Department and Fire Department before the event.

Crowd management staff will inspect the area to identify and address any poor barriers or fire hazards and help with attendees during emergencies.

True/False spokesperson Emily Edwards said there are 575 volunteers, and a volunteer training occurred on Feb. 17.

Edwards did not have any additional comment on the public safety plan for the festival.

McConachie said in case of an emergency, people should locate event staff and volunteers.

"They're going to tell you about any exit strategies, any movements that you need to make," McConachie said. "They do a huge, multi-hour training with all of their volunteers."

The event public safety plan states any emergency notifications will be given to festival goers via social media and word of mouth. Event organizers will communicate with cellphones and two-way radios.

Event staff will be recognizable by wearing green, pink or yellow passes on their lanyards. Venue staff will all be in red T-shirts.

There are scripted messages for staff in the case of evacuations, shelter-in-place and extreme weather events, as well as a list of which staff members are responsible for which actions during an emergency.

In a medical emergency, the safety plan said event volunteers will first call 911 and then alert a staff member. Staff are not supposed to perform any actions they are not trained to do, but they will secure the scene and ask festival-goers to move away.

The injured person should not be moved, and staff should work to find out more information about the person's injuries. If the person is unconscious, event staff is supposed to shout and tap the person while checking for normal breathing.

The 2024 safety plan says there will be eight or more event and venue staff on site for the Jubilee, March March, Reality Bites and Buskers' Last Stand, and other events will be staffed based on capacity.

CPD spokesperson Jenny Hopper said in an email the police department has a safety and security plan in place for the film fest but can't provide any details.

After the recent shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Parade, McConachie said these emergency situations are something Columbia always keeps in mind when doing a safety plan review and has done so for many years.

Alcohol management

True/False also has an alcohol management plan for its festival. It states ID checkers are certified and attend an in-person ID training with CPD prior to the film festival.

People 21 and older will get a wristband. There are certain locations listed where people can get those wristbands including the Box Office at Sager Reeves Gallery and events where alcohol is served.

Traffic impacts

McConachie said people should be aware of the increase in people downtown this weekend and know Ninth Street will be closed between Elm Street and Locust Street throughout the festival.

"Downtown, it will be really busy," McConachie said. "The garages will be full. Street parking will be at a premium. So, definitely something to think about if you're planning on coming downtown. Give yourself plenty of time."

She said there will be rolling closures along Ninth Street on Friday for the March March beginning at 5:15 p.m. That will last between 45 minutes to an hour. She said anyone who typically travels through downtown after the workday will likely want to take a detour Friday.

She said a 2018 economic impact study on the festival brought in $2.2 million to Columbia.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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