Creative communications agency drp in partnership with the NEC staged a live-action crisis training day in Hall 12 at the NEC Birmingham. The exercise is part of an ongoing crisis training programme for all the drp team who have been working with the police and a specialist crisis management consultancy. The two-year programme has been designed to ensure the team have the necessary skills and processes in the event of an incident, attendees and staff gain the maximum protection and support as possible.

The day involved around 50 drp team members from across the business, from board members to apprentices, plus a large contingent from the NEC including security, events team, catering, and a key drp client.

The simulation was based on a 4,500-delegate conference being held in Hall 12, the hall was set out to be as realistic as possible, with a registration area, auditorium, catering, breakouts and an exhibition, with drp, the NEC and client teams split into their typical roles.

The scenario, which none of the participants was aware of, commenced in Birmingham New Street station as the delegates were arriving and registering for the conference in the atrium. The scenario then escalated towards the NEC, the challenge for the team is ‘what to do next’.


The realism was supported by social media and fake BBC news reports, that deliberately gave conflicting and confusing information. The drp ‘Gold’ team, were activated, who would control any situation and the crisis communication lines were put in place including the client’s own PR team. As the crisis unfolded tensions ran high, particularly when the NEC went into total lockdown, the NEC’s dogs were deployed as reports of incidents across the centre, heading towards hall 12. The teams had to deal with 4500 delegates now locked in the hall for an indefinite period of time.

Throughout the day the scenario was paused to reflect and look at improvements which would be made.

Dale Parmenter, CEO of drp, commented, “This was a unique and exceptional experience created and masterminded by Marie Lacey and the crisis team at drp in partnership with the NEC to really bring the training to life. It’s a massive commitment and investment for us, I’m confident in the event of an incident the drp team have the skills and confidence to manage the situation in a professional and calm way to maximise delegate safety. We are committed to continuing to develop the programme and fine-tune our processes”.

Adam is the co-founder and editor of Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.