Marathon officials gather in Long Beach for security conference - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Marathon officials gather in Long Beach for security conference

More than 75 marathon officials and organizers from New York to Hawaii are addressing the “what ifs.” (Photo source: WLOX) More than 75 marathon officials and organizers from New York to Hawaii are addressing the “what ifs.” (Photo source: WLOX)
LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -

Marathon officials from Boston, New York, Chicago and dozens of other cities are on the Coast this week. They are attending a security conference at the Gulf Park Campus of USM in Long Beach.

“What happens if a community that has, I'm not certain how much medical capacity, gets overwhelmed with 600 casualties,” a participant asked during a tabletop exercise discussion.

More than 75 marathon officials and organizers from New York to Hawaii are addressing the “what ifs.”

“You're three days before the event,” said the group leader. “You've got a forecast for some weather that could be hot and humid.”

A series of tabletop exercises helps these participants better prepare for whatever security or safety issue that may suddenly arise.

“The risk of security is an ever changing dynamic in this country and really across the world. It's important that us, not only in hosting large spectacles that bring out thousands of spectators, but also host thousands of athletes, are having the preparations in place to take care of our runners, our volunteers and our spectators,” said Kyle McLaughlin, who directs security for the New York Marathon.

The bombing at the Boston Marathon two years ago made everyone realize the kind of danger that could happen at any large scale sporting event.

“It made it very real for all of us,” said John Bertsch, who directs public safety for the Ironman Triathlon Championship.

He says the Boston tragedy prompted race officials to focus more on prevention strategies.

“We have our policies and procedures in place for reactionary, but we're now focusing on prevention. How do we preplan our way and set up policies and procedures that help mitigate and alleviate any potential threat that we have,” said Bertsch.

“It's a unique challenge. We don't have walls. We don't have fences or gates or doors that you can control who comes in or comes out. So, it's important you work with your local municipalities, city, state and federal agencies, determining the best courses and plans of action,” said McLaughlin.

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