cess during events such as the Super Bowl. An increase in total FSIS personnel is
not necessary per se; however, there may be a need for redistribution of our trained
personnel to prepare for and work the event.
LM: For our dining halls, we didn’t really need anything extra; we just had to
increase awareness among the staff.
For catering, we added cooler spaces and about 25–30 more people to our team
for 2 weeks. The luxury of working in this department is that we can pull assistance
from other units. We acquired more vehicles and food-holding equipment. We
could only use certain vendors, so we planned daily with our sales reps on items we
needed. Our administrative team coordinated with the city on times, pickups, and
allergies, and fielded tons of calls throughout the day.
VS: I cannot stress [enough] the importance of logistical planning for this type
of event. Not only was it recommended by Chief Woody of the Atlanta Police Department [APD] that I join the Super Bowl Logistics Committee, [but] our internal
logistical planning efforts were quite robust as well. Being able to see the larger
picture of the overall logistical response helped us in our preparedness endeavors. It
also gave us knowledge to prepare for our specified operations. The logistical need
for our food defense efforts was detailed and comprehensive. It included operational
personnel, vehicles, supplies, PPE [personal protective equipment], hand warmers,
sampling supplies, coolers, carts to transport supplies in the field, clipboards, and
travel routes, to name a few.
A common thought I like to share when providing National Incident Management System/Incident Command System (NIMS/ICS) trainings is that the logistics
are often an afterthought. Logistics is the often less recognized KEY to any response. If you don’t have the people, equipment, and/or supplies on hand to do the
job, you don’t have an operation. You cannot conduct the work that must be done
because you don’t have the tools to do the job. As we follow the NIMS/ICS structure, logistics is a critical component, and more focus should be given to this key
management paradigm to be successful in our planning and operational response
activities. NIMS/ICS is like a puzzle: You need all the pieces to get to and appreciate the full picture that you are trying to develop and create.
FSM: Were you prepared for all contingencies on the day of the event? Did you encounter any issues that you weren’t expecting?
TB: FSIS takes its role in these special events seriously and is fully prepared. FSIS
surveils and reports the laboratory results for the foods intended for consumption
during the big event prior to the event itself. The pre-event sampling, testing, and
data reporting are intended to demonstrate the seriousness of an intentional food
adulteration and harden the target by having a demonstrable presence of a food
defense assessment/sampling/testing/reporting plan associated with each event that
FSIS is involved in. These efforts also act as a deterrent for anyone who may consider tampering with the food supply at events.
As a group of federal and state partners, we were prepared, and fortunately no
unforeseen circumstances arose during Super Bowl LIII. FSIS was on standby status,
prepared to assist the local public health authority and GDA’s RRT, should a food
sample need an expedited laboratory
analysis for any reason.
LM: For our dining halls, we were
prepared for all contingencies that could
or would arise. We discussed the ultimate worst-case scenario and developed
a hypothetical plan for that. Anything
else would not be a problem for us to
For catering, we weren’t always prepared for changes, but we were always
able to adjust and accommodate the
customers on short notice. On the front
end, the customers never noticed, but
we had some growing pains. We’d come
in with changes to guest counts, filling
personnel gaps, handling daily product
being shipped in, and still working on a
busy university campus.
VS: I can tell you even though we
had prepared for weather conditions
and the National Weather Service
was involved, we weren’t expecting a
35-county shutdown [due to the federal
government shutdown] of local and
state offices to impact us during the
Super Bowl. Though many staff were
working remotely, to include myself,
this shutdown did not impact an effective and timely food illness complaint
investigation that involved law enforcement officers and was successfully addressed due to training efforts. This hard
work paid off and contributed to timely
and effective information sharing and
operational coordination activities.
This investigation was successfully
concluded on the day it began. It was
a coordinated effort led by ESF Branch
Director Wendy Smith and myself,
which included local and state epidemiologists, FBI, APD, USDA-FSIS OIEA
staff, laboratory staff, and other key
GA RRT partners. A big thanks to Ken
Cash, USDA-FSIS, for working with the
law enforcement community to conduct
interviews and surveillance and bring a
timely conclusion that indicated there
was no nefarious activity involved in the
foodborne illness investigation. Previous on-site walk-through activities were
critical aspects of a timely investigation
resolution and should be included as
best practices in future event planning.
“The key to success is pre-planning for large
events to ensure there is plenty of equipment
and personnel available to maintain food safety