Jacksonville, Florida – S.A.F.E. Management operates in five states across the US and welcomes an incredibly diverse crowd of people into its venues every day. As part of our training program we have developed and continue to improve upon our service to individuals with special needs. This training focus is at the core of our mission statement – creating and maintaining an enjoyable and SAFE environment for our guests. It’s also a topic that strikes at the heart of our founder and CEO, Jim McIntyre. Jim’s daughter Alex has mild intellectual disabilities and a variety of other challenges that she faces on a daily basis. Due to this personal experience, Jim is well aware of the challenges that these families face when they attend a special event. He is also aware of the incredible joy it can bring a family when the outing goes well and the emotions that are created when there are logistical challenges along the way. One of those challenges that guests with special needs face is the ingress process. This starts with parking and doesn’t end until the guests are in their seats. In the middle of this process is the security inspection step. Although all would agree that this is incredibly important to the safety of all guests, it is also a hurdle for guests with disabilities. During this step in the ingress process it is critical that the guest and their family are met with a smile and are accommodated to ensure that they have a smooth screening process that does not sacrifice the safety of all guests, but also takes into account the special situation that exists.
A few months ago, a guest named Abbie and her family attended an event at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. During the bag inspection process our security guard initially denied the bag due to its size (the bag would not have been deemed permitted with a typical guest). After requesting a Supervisor, Abbie and her family were eventually permitted to bring the bag into the arena, but the delay in time caused Abbie, who is autistic, to feel singled out. Following this incident, S.A.F.E. was able to speak with Abbie’s family and based on their experience we reiterated our policies and procedures at Jacksonville Memorial Arena that allow for medical bags to be permitted as long as they are inspected. This additional training has enhanced our Team Member’s ability to better serve those guests with special needs and have empowered our Team Members to feel more prepared to face these situations.
On June 2nd, Abbie and her family came back to the Arena for a Sharks game. Abbie’s father filmed their experience and was thrilled with the improvements that had been made. In speaking with our Event Manager, Jeff, he said that it was obvious that the event security guard did not know who they were or that they were attending, but immediately noticed that the bag was a medical bag. He then searched the bag and permitted it into the arena without hesitation.
The event staffing industry is filled with humans. Even when well prepared and trying their best, humans naturally make mistakes. What S.A.F.E. has learned is that people don’t expect perfection, but they do expect all of us to identify where we can improve and take action steps to ensure that improvement takes place. We are proud of how our Jacksonville Team responded to this challenge and hope that it leads to others like Abbie and her family to enjoy a continued level of great service at Jacksonville Memorial Arena.
For more information on Abbie and her family, please visit their YouTube channel called Fathering Autism.