The Show Must Go On… Even in the Wake of Terrorism

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Every corner of every block in [downtown] Boston had SWAT team members and soldiers fully armed.  There were bomb squad Humvees and police presence to the max.  The lobby and meeting room foyers of the hotel were constantly patrolled by law enforcement personnel, and all the while Image AV’s team set equipment and laid the groundwork for a week-long show amid the chaos.” – David “Mac” McGuire, Production Manager and Director of Video Production, Image Audiovisuals.

On Monday, April 15, otherwise known to all Bostonites as “Patriot Day,” our nation suffered another egregious attack on our freedom.  Unbeknownst to all associated with the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) 101st Annual Conference, Image Audiovisuals, The Sheraton Hotel and FSMB  would emerge together through media frenzy, marshal law, a city lockdown and a manhunt to successfully convene and achieve a semblance of normal business through extraordinary circumstances.  Below is the account of a show which will forever be memorable to everyone involved, as recited by Mac.

“The hotel venue was located less than a block from Boylston Street, where the bombing took place.  Most of the team was set to arrive on Tuesday, following the difficult decision by FSMB to continue the conference.  It was a surreal experience winding through the city in a cab, having to find alternate routes to the hotel amid all of the street closures and strong police presence. ”

Upon arriving, another main concern was the arrival of the production truck, carrying all of the conference equipment and two key Image AV team members.  Coordinating the logistics for the arrival of a massive truck in a downtown metro is an already daunting task, but when you factor in all extenuating circumstances, a solution needed to be found to accommodate the load-in for the show, storage and load-out.

“Once my team secured parking and storage at an alternate location, the remainder of the day was to do what all of us do during shows; attend pre-convention meetings, connect with key hotel personnel, manage any client requests and/or changes and begin to go through the normal mechanics of managing a conference.”

The conference opened on Thursday, April 18, while questions still remain as to how and why the attack occurred.  While the conference included the usual elements of the National Anthem, a color guard processional and conference invocation, it is clear to all attendees that this is a conference unlike any other.

“Between Thursday and Friday, the FBI needed an outpost to announce information on the two suspects and release images and photography that had been obtained over the week.  FSMB had the contracted space, but all willingly pushed agendas and production orders aside to accommodate the press conference.  It was here that the FBI identified the two individuals.”

The IAV team would do a number of resets and reconfigurations, working in conjunction with the hotel to go from an FSMB gathering to the national center of breaking news, as much of the space was used by law enforcement in between conference events.  The city was now in a full-scale lockdown and people were advised by a “shelter in place” order, making the bustling downtown streets desolate, and preventing hotel employees from arriving for work shifts.  Unaffected, the IAV team pitched in to assist banquet staff and hotel employees as needed.

“In the end, the conference finished successfully, even though our client went from 17 conference coordinators and employees to 5 onsite.  Our team has always operated by a simple motto, ‘Finish strong on the final day,’ because at the end of an event, if you don’t finish strong, it doesn’t bring closure.  As all of us were loading the truck to leave, we would witness people adding flowers or signs to the makeshift memorial on Boylston and we all could say we finished strong for the whole nation.”
Yes, IAV did finish strong.  Boston Strong.

Thanks to Mac and his unwavering leadership, as well as to all of the IAV family who observed the events and participated in the FSMB collaborative effort.

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