Fire alarms go off. Evacuations happen. How do you prevent your disaster from turning into another disaster? If you run a convention, you’ve got to have a disaster plan. As a convention organizer, the responsibility lies with you to always be a step or two ahead, to build and regularly exercise a plan in conjunction with your venue and local law enforcement.
We at Usagi Medical Group have been there and done that. From vulnerability assessment and plan writing, to training, implementation, and revision. We’ve been studying mass gatherings and disasters for decades. We are familiar with common pinch points, pitfalls, and cautionary tales. We’ve constructed plans that have been used with great success. And even when things go really well, we assess afterwards and make improvements and adjustments.
You can write the greatest plan in the world, but if you don’t continually train and drill your plan, no one will know what to do in an emergency. Training doesn’t have to be a big deal or a downer, it can be short, fun reminders of what to do when you-know-what hits the oscillating unit. You’ll notice that we don’t get into specifics here, because your needs are going to differ based on your event, and are influenced by your specific convention culture, your venue, and current events, and may require change from year to year.
We can help you get started on a plan that will be uniquely tailored to your event and your needs. Call on us to help you get ready and avoid catastrophe.
So, Post-Con Depression is a real thing. I mean, you’re not going to find it in the DSM, but we know that coming down from the pure excitement and hilarity of the convention can leave one feeling temporarily worse than usual. Being surrounded by tons of fun, like-minded people, costumes, exhibits, panels, parties, your family of friends… What’s not to like? It’s hard to go back to real life after a weekend of escapism. Coming back to reality can underline some real feelings of sadness and discontent.
There are some things you can do to make the transition back to reality a little easier. Many of these things are purely physical. Even if you followed the 5-2-1 Rule, you may simply need more sleep. It doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re properly hydrated, so drink water, and lots of it. Make sure you’re eating right. Get out of the house for a bit. A quick walk and some sunlight are known mood stabilizers.
Plan social events with your friends. If you’re anything like me, you miss your friends after the con. Chances are they’re having similar feelings. Don’t be afraid to talk openly about those feelings. A little shared empathy goes a long way to making things better. If your friends aren’t available, join a Meetup or find activities with like-minded people. New friends means more future fun. That last sentence sounds like it should be a bumper sticker or something. The point is, you can always redefine your circumstances to make the next day better.
While you’re at it, buy an advance registration for next year’s con. Knowing it is on the horizon (and making plans to do fun things there) can keep you buoyed and optimistic. Besides, you’re almost sure to save some money by doing an advance registration, and your con will thank you for your early patronage. (Be sure to tell them they need to bring Usagi Medical Group to their con.)
This is going to sound weird, but my recommendation is that you stay away from your television. Don’t binge-watch Death Note. Yeah. You read that right. For a while after the con, avoid activities that keep you isolated for too long. Isolation is the opposite of what you need, and what you need is a little social contact. Yes, even for an introvert. Watching your television leaves you “on the outside” of character interactions. This makes loneliness worse. Being in touch with people keeps you “on the inside” of such interactions.
I’m also going to tell you that an actual phone call is preferred to doing the Snapchat thing, or texting, or Tweeting. Sure, those things count as social interaction, but they seem impersonal compared to a phone call. You could organize a Skype session or a Google Hangout, or even a Discord “server.” I don’t mean to say that any of these things are bad. Reaching out to touch someone is simply good medicine.
But the key word in that first paragraph is “temporary.” If you find your dysphoria lingers for more than a few weeks, please do the powerful thing and talk to someone about those feelings. Maybe your body is trying to tell you something. There’s never any harm in being proactive with one’s emotions.
Cody Steavens started his health and safety interests within an Explorer’s Club in high school. “I was interested in the Fire Service side.” He soon became part of his local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Dive Team. “When I was old enough I signed up as a volunteer at my local Fire Department, and they later asked if I wanted a job there. Life moved me to better opportunities, but I miss working for the Fire Department all the time.” Truly, Cody openly wishes he could be a firetruck.
Steavens joined UsagiMed in 2014, returning annually for the Anime Weekend Atlanta events. He says, “I believe mental health is just as important as physical health but it’s often neglected. That’s why I like making people laugh and smile. If my being silly can help someone forget about their problems even for a minute then it’s not silly.”
Cody is very silly, and we love him for it. When he’s not working, Cody is actually into farming, gardening, and SCUBA diving (though not currently all at the same time). He’s also seriously into cooking and photography. And when he’s not doing that, you might find Cody getting into some Metal Gear Solid or Overwatch. “I also love watching Achievement Hunter on YouTube, and I enjoy a good action movie. Tom Clancy is one of my favorite authors.”
Usagi Medical Group has been busy planning for this weekend’s Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA). With over 30,000 guests in attendance, we expect to help close to 400 people with all manner of first-aid needs, and will be doing emergency medical response throughout the convention.
UsagiMed has also done extensive disaster planning for AWA, and we remain an integral part of crew training. In addition to general training, our personnel train AWA staff in CPR, disaster readiness, and even radio etiquette. These things help define the convention’s professional culture and commitment to the guest experience.
AWA is the place where UsagiMed was born. It’s like “going home” for the UsagiMed crew. If you’re at the con, please stop by and say Hello!
UsagiMed’s Joshua Law joined us in 2014. Josh says, “Whether it’s working a convention, getting training for work, or just having a first-aid kit, I’ve been doing something First Aid / Safety related for over twenty-two years.” Josh got started in Boy Scouts at the age of eleven, earning his Eagle Scout at eighteen, and he is a veteran of the U. S. Navy. Josh earned his EMT-B in 2016 to go along with his first aid, first responder, and CPR certifications.
“My dad was a missionary, and took me along on more than one trip, domestically and internationally. As a result, I fell in love with other cultures, and enjoy learning all I can about them.” When it comes to fandom, Josh is into RPG’s, crafting games, and anime. “I love Miyazaki, but Trigun is my favorite series.” In his spare time, you might find Josh finishing a woodworking project, playing ARC, or reading.
We’re friends, right? I’m not going to tell you that there’s a good time to drink so much that you get sick. That’s always a bad idea. But the last place you want to over-do it with the cocktails is AWA. Not only do you miss an opportunity for fun, but it’s like you’re losing money on your hotel room and membership.
If you’re 21 or older, a drink or two can make an evening lots more enjoyable. But if you drink too much, you cross over into a land that suddenly isn’t any fun anymore: “the spins,” vomiting, hangovers, and the inability to remember that hilarious thing that happened last night. When you’re sharing close quarters with a bunch of your friends, vomiting creates many logistical problems that are highly unpleasant for everyone involved. No one wants to miss a minute of AWA, but you risk losing an entire evening if you overdo it.
AWA is our favorite time of the year. It’s Christmas for anime fans! We wait for it all year, like excited grade-school kids, counting down the days and hours. We plan elaborate costumes, complex packing strategies that are worthy of Tetris, book and fill hotel rooms to bursting, and buy our memberships. We want to pack the maximum fun into every minute we have, and make memories and tell stories for the rest of the year, until AWA comes around again.
So pace yourself, have a great time, and send us a photo, OK?
Greg Etheridge has been with UsagiMed for twelve years. Greg started working with Anime Weekend Atlanta with our very own Laura Block. (Back when UsagiMed was still called Bunnies Without Borders.) Greg says, “Before that, Laura and I worked as part of a federal-level, disaster medical response team. She brought me into her department at the con.”
Greg is a veteran of the U.S. Army and has worked in public safety for twenty-five years. He is a paramedic with the Fire Department and also works on his local SRT (SWAT) team. Greg is a state-certified fire, police and EMS instructor. He also serves as his department’s Deputy Fire Marshal… “So change your home detector batteries!”
When he isn’t working, Greg enjoys RPG games, Game of Thrones, and is a HUGE movie buff. He says, “If you want to watch some anime with me you will have to go old school.” Greg enjoys classic shows like Speed Racer, Star Blazers, and Battle Of The Planets. There is a good chance when you see a cosplayer in one of these costumes it will be Greg. Don’t hesitate to say hello.
Take your prescribed medicine. Take it as prescribed, even at con. The laws of medicine still apply, even during the most fun weekend of the year. And don’t take anyone else’s medicine.
Many of our patients are folks who forget to take their medications. Some forget to take them on time. Others simply didn’t bring their meds to the con, or were having so much fun they didn’t think to take them all day.
We want your convention to be as fun as it can be, without interruption. I mean, we love you, but we don’t want to see you unless you’re inviting us to celebrate something. So remember to take your meds.
Create reminders Set an alarm, separate your meds into the compartments of a pillbox organizer or keep a daily log of prescriptions‚ including drug names and dosages. Such a document especially helps medical personnel to look at your medical requirements if you’re unable to walk us through them.
Plan ahead If you have an especially hectic day ahead of you, take extra care to establish reminders. Make a habit of taking your pills at the same time every day.
Con Crud. You don’t want it, and neither do we. Some words from UMG’s very own Joshua Law:
“Con Crud” (also known as “Con Plague”) is a broad term applied to any number of viruses or contagion you may pick up from others while you’re at a convention. The fact is, we all encounter all kinds of “crud” (germs, bacteria, and viruses) on a daily basis. Our bodies generally do an amazing job of fighting off these invaders every day. BUT, when you’re staying awake all night, gaming, partying, and reveling with your friends over meals comprised of pocky and red bull, your immune system taps out, and all the “crud” can have its nefarious way with you.
The trick? Keep your immune system happy. Your body needs rest so your white blood cells can fight off those invaders, and you need to supply your immune system with nutrients–fuel for the microbial fight. A few simple tips:
The 5-2-1 rule. Learn it. Live it. Love it. Your body will thank you, and so will we. In fact, be an over-achiever on this one. Because you are just that awesome.
Stay hydrated! Water (not soda) helps your cells flush the bad stuff out. It also keeps your mucus membranes happy, and less susceptible to harm.
Do the hygiene thing. Wash your hands early and often. Those gel-hand-sanitizers are okay, but you really can’t beat good ol’ soap and warm water to get con-crud off your hands, and everyone else’s. And don’t forget to cough or sneeze into your elbow instead of your hand. Yes, that is also simply good hygiene. (And it also happens to be good courtesy.)
Get a flu shot. Consider doing this at least two weeks before the con. This will give your body time to build up antibodies, giving your immune system more ammo for the upcoming microbial fight.
If you have the ‘flu or a cold, consider sitting this one out. Fever / chills, sneezing / sniffling, sore throat, body aches, and coughing are signs that you may be contagious. The same bug which makes you feel bad can have serious effects in others, especially children, cancer patients, and the elderly. Staying home when you’re sick helps curb germs in the community. You may not hear us say it, but we really are saying “thank you” when you choose to keep your cold at home. We will look forward to partying with you next year.
We all want to have a good con experience, so let’s work together, and make sure everyone goes home happy and healthy. UMG thanks you for your time and attention. We now return to your regularly-scheduled, lighthearted cavorting.