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plenary Behind the Scenes in Boston A BOSTON ATTENDEE

‘A Sense of Security’ Ronnie Betts, a registered nurse case manager at New Jersey’s Hacken- sack University Medical Center, attended the Eastern Nursing Research Society’s 25th Annual Scientific Sessions at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel on April 17–19.

Once they didn’t cancel it, my colleague and I decided, okay, well, they didn’t cancel it, let’s go. The first day that we were there, Wednes- day, everything seemed pretty okay and pretty calm. After the confer- ence [that day], we walked by the waterfront where our hotel was, maybe six o’clock at night, and there was a bomb scare in some kind of a government building. And we kind of looked at each other like, uh-oh.

The second day at the conference, everything seemed to go okay. We didn’t stay at the same hotel where the conference was, so we went from our hotel to [the Renaissance], and everything was fine. We just walked in, business as usual.

Friday morning when we went to go to the last day of the conference, that was when the city went on lockdown. When we went to the confer- ence, they did a security check before you could even get in the door. They went through your bag, you had to show ID. The reality of it was, uh-oh, this is pretty serious.

I have to say, the governor, the FBI, the SWAT teams, and whatever else was in place, was phenomenal. A little unnerving — you go past a regular street corner, like it would be your own neighborhood, and there were police with big machine guns and they’re all in the riot gear and everything. But the city itself was not as frenzied or frenetic as you would think. It was more like, I would say, a sense of security.

We went to the conference a little bit [on Friday] and then said, that’s it, we’re out of here. I really didn’t want to be stranded in Boston. We said to each other, wow, imagine all of these people here that need taxi service to the airport. Because I don’t think we were the only confer- ence in town that day.

to let people know what was going on, including whether or not to come to work and how to behave the next day in particular.” The MCCA was also in “constant-

communication mode” with the world at large. Event managers went “face- to-face on the phone” with clients throughout the week, Rooney said, letting them know “what intelligence we had in terms of additional threats and so forth, added security proce- dures, and the fact that the buildings had been swept, to give them an added level of comfort.” His team also kept up a steady stream of press releases, website updates, tweets, and Facebook posts, with the latest information on the status of its buildings in general and of ASCA, Experimental Biology, and Boston Comic Con in particular. GBCVB was also working to get the

on Tuesday morning with show orga- nizers and representatives from the BCEC, GBCVB, and the hotels in its room block. “It was incredibly helpful to hear, in connection with what the local authorities were communicating, what additional safety factors they were adding to their hotels,” Jackson said.

“Because, as you can imagine, we were getting tons of emails [from attendees and other participants] saying, ‘Should I still come? Is it still safe?’ And I was able to say, here’s what the hotels are doing for the benefit of your safety.”


GETTING THE WORD OUT Throughout all of this, the MCCA, GBCVB, and the meeting organizers them- selves were using a variety of communication channels to keep their employees, partners, attendees, and other stakeholders in the loop. The MCCA has an emergency-notification system for its employees that “most of the time here in Boston gets used for snow-type situations,” Rooney said, “but in this case we relied heavily on it

‘Communica- tion is key with all the players. It’s talking. It’s asking ques- tions. There are no stupid questions. I asked a lot of them. I wanted to make sure if any attendees asked me, I was well prepared.’

word out, especially to leisure tour- ists. “This was school-vacation week in Boston, so there were groups that were scheduled here,” Moscaritolo said. “We started getting calls from school admin- istrators and parents and teachers that were bringing these groups in.” Sometimes that involved

a personal touch. On Tues- day morning, Moscaritolo got an email from a North Carolina high-school teacher who was bringing a choral group to Boston the fol- lowing Thursday, April 25. Moscaritolo ended up send- ing him an update every day over the next week, which the teacher would read aloud in class. “[The teacher] said

what happened was, ‘Our students got more fired up about “we are coming, we are gonna make a statement,”’ Moscari- tolo said. “I was getting goosebumps reading his emails.” Experimental Biology was posting

and tweeting its own updates — includ- ing, front and center on the conference


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