PBX Operator Carolee Tomlinson glanced at the clock. "Noon," she thought as the phone rang with yet another call. She was eager to help the caller and leave for a very well-deserved lunch break. It seemed everything at the Northpoint was especially hectic today. It was the first day of the hotel's first large convention since a major renovation project was completed. With over 1,000 nationally respected guests on site, everyone wanted to make the best impression possible.
"Thank you for calling the Northpoint Hotel. How may I direct your call?"
"There's a bomb at your hotel."
Carolee gulped. "I beg your pardon, sir?"
"Your hearing better improve fast unless you want to see a lot
of people get blown up."
"I'm not on a cell phone, I'm in a ph—" He stopped. "Just listen. There's a bomb in your hotel and you'd better do something about it."
"What time is it going to go off?" Carolee asked, reading from the bomb-threat checklist.
"Forty-five minutes from now."
"12:45," she said, taking notes.
"That's what I said."
"Where is it?"
"Why don't we just say that's for me to know and you to find out. More fun that way, don't you think?"
"What kind of bomb is it?"
"The kind that sends a very, very loud message." The caller laughed, and Carolee noted the sound of traffic in the background.
"Why are you doing this?"
"You've got a lot of nerve, asking me that. I think it's time all those so-called scientists came face-to-face with the fact that there are some things they just can't fix. Maybe they won't keep thinking they can play God with people's lives."
The convention, Carolee thought. The Cancer Research Society of America. Who in the world could possibly hold a grudge against cancer researchers? And then Carolee remembered something. "Is this Dale?"
The line went dead.
Carolee glanced up at the clock. It was 12:07. Amazing how quickly your whole world can change, she thought as she dialed the police. After informing them of the threat, she notified the property's general manager, Marisa Hingle.
Marisa quickly appeared at Carolee's workstation. "What was your impression of the caller?" she asked.
Carolee reviewed her notes from the conversation. "It was a man, no accent to speak of. I think he was calling from a phone booth; I heard traffic in the background."
"No location or description of the device?" Marisa asked.
"He just said it would send a very loud message," Carolee paused. "You know, I think it was Dale Edgar. The caller specifically said he wanted to get back at our conference attendees because they were 'playing God with people's lives.' I know Dale's wife died of cancer about two weeks after he quit to care for her, and I sort of recognized his voice. But I didn't really know him well, so I don't know if it's something he's really capable of or whether he’s just bluffing."
"Thanks, Carolee," Marisa said as she hurried away, glancing at her watch. "No matter who it was, we're taking every precaution. Make the evacuation call now."
For the Northpoint Hotel, "every precaution" meant an evacuation and a complete search of the property for any packages, luggage, or other devices that looked suspicious, out of place, or unclaimed.
Carolee referred to her bomb-procedures sheet again and dialed into the public-address system that goes into all of the rooms in the hotel.
"We apologize for this inconvenience," Carolee read over the PA, "but an emergency situation has arisen. We must ask that you evacuate the premises immediately, taking with you your valuables and personal belongings and proceed to the park located across the street from the hotel. Please use the stairwells, if necessary. Do not use the elevators. Thank you. Safety code 319."
"Safety code 319" was the Northpoint's code for a bomb threat, which every staff member at the hotel would recognize. Even as people were beginning to hurry out of the conference rooms and guestrooms, hotel staff were assembling in their assigned areas.
The food and beverage and sales managers began moving through the seminar rooms and meeting spaces being used by the conference attendees. Room attendants checked linen closets and other storage areas to be sure they were indeed locked and that there were no signs of suspicious activity. Engineering employees worked their way through the mechanical rooms, checking all equipment for anything that looked unusual.
Marisa and her staff were standing at the entrance ushering guests into
the parking lot when three police cars screeched down the driveway. The
Channel 10 news van and a car from the "Suburban Sun-Sentinel" were close
behind. Marisa knew that once the call went out over the police bands
it would only be a question of "when" not "if" the news media would arrive.
She also knew that herding 1,000 eminent doctors and scientists across
the street and into the park was bound to create images too intriguing
for the TV broadcasters and newspaper photographers to ignore. She searched
the growing crowd for the hotel's director of public relations and the
property's designated spokesman, Roger Carr.
The following industry experts helped generate and develop this case: Wendell Couch, ARM, CHA, Director of Technical Services for the Risk Management Department of Bass Hotels & Resorts; and Raymond C. Ellis, Jr., CHE, CHTP, Professor, Conrad N. Hilton College, University of Houston, Director, Loss Prevention Management Institute.
the general manager make the right choice in evacuating over 1,000 guests
to the park? What factors influenced her decision?
on this year's experience, should the Northpoint Hotel take any steps to
prepare for bomb threats against this convention group in future years?
If so, what steps might they take?
points might Roger Carr make when he makes a statement to the local media?
When should that statement occur?
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