The outing proposed needs to be a four hour tour for a group of 20 individuals with varied backgrounds, experience, and physical abilities. It needs to be an outdoor activity. The people in the group include four people in the 60-70-year range (three males and one female) two females over the age of 75, both of whom have health problems, four children between the ages of six and ten years old (one with chronic asthma and one with a severe peanut allergy), six people between the ages of 35 and 40 (three males and three females; one of the females is pregnant), and four people between the ages of 16 and 18 (2 males and 2 females). Furthermore, while everyone in the tour group is an English speaker, English is not the first language of the elderly members of the group (those age 60 and above). Because the group is diverse, the outing needs to be entertaining. If there is any type of cover charge associated with the activity, it needs to be affordable because the organization is experiencing financial difficulties. Finally, the tour needs to occur in a location where the staff could receive help from the others because the organization has had a difficult time keeping qualified staff, which means that it is difficult to assess what the staffing situation will be when the outing occurs.
Risk Context Statement
The location chosen for the four-hour outdoor tour is Mesilla, New Mexico. The tour will be a ghost tour that starts at dusk and is comprised of a walking tour around Old Mesilla. During that walking tour, the guide will describe several hauntings and take the tour members to locations that are purported to be haunted. There are several such locations around Old Mesilla, and sightings of the ghosts that haunt these areas have occurred recently, giving the tour members something to anticipate on the tour (Old Mesilla, 2012). However, the tour will also be appropriate for children. Old Mesilla is a historic town that has been highly commercialized for modern time. Although it retains its historic flavor, it is safe and has a non-threatening appearance; it is not like a haunted house or other activity that is likely to cause distress or harm in the tour members. In addition, a four hour walking tour is extensive without having adequate places for breaks, including access to bathroom facilities. Because the tour necessarily leads people outside of various business establishments, the organization can enter into arrangements with local business owners to use the facilities at their locations, which will also increase the patronage at the various establishments.
Looking into New Mexican law, there do not appear to be any risk-related requirements for operating a tour group, either in the state as a whole or in Dona Ana County. The organization will need to obtain a gross receipt tax registration and a license/registration from Old Mesilla (New Mexico Small Business Development Center, 2010). Tour groups are not required to get any type of special license or comply with any type of special laws (New Mexico Small Business Development Center, 2010). They are, however, required to follow the laws and rules established for all people in New Mexico. Therefore, the tour group might find itself liable to businesses for damages that had been inflicted by a member of the tour group and may be liable to tour members for injuries that they receive in the course of the tour.
The location where the tour will occur is a place called Old Mesilla in Mesilla, New Mexico, a historic town on the outskirts of Las Cruces, New Mexico, approximately an hour away from El Paso, Texas. The historic area is smaller than 10 square blocks and features a large plaza in the middle. On one side of the historic area is an area with a number of shops that are in historic buildings. Towards the other side of the historic area is the Old Mesilla Plaza. "The Mesilla Plaza was given to the Mesilla Colony Grant Board which owned it for many years. Now the plaza with its gazebo is registered as a national monument" (Mesilla.com, 2012).
The largest risk associated with running a tour in Old Mesilla is the fact that it is a historic location and there are some areas where the walking is uneven. This could lead to potential injuries among the clients. While it is not a legal requirement, the smartest course of action would be for the tour group to maintain insurance to protect them in the event that someone is injured while going on the tour. It would also be prudent to have disclaimers on all available promotional materials, as well as on the tickets, stating that it is a walking tour, in an outdoor environment, so that the tour company can only exercise limited control over the conditions of the tour and shall be held harmless except for acts of intentional negligence.
Macro risk management discusses large-scale risks, many of which are often ignored in risk calculation scenarios because they do not seem to be highly probable. However, not being highly probable is not the same thing as being impossible. "We believe that reducing the likelihood of truly catastrophic outcomes should be a central goal of any system designed to achieve rational risk management. That may appear to be an obvious proposition, but as we will discuss, the risk-assessment and risk management communities are not functioning as if that is the central goal. We also believe that the existence of unknown but plausible tipping points supports a sense of urgency regarding risk assessment and risk management" (Vandenbergh & Gilligan, 2011). The macro risk scenarios have to consider things that are implausible but that would be catastrophic to the tour members. These risks would include the possibility of an unforeseen natural disaster, an attack on Old Mesilla like the one at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado or a similarly unpredictable event that could cause mass destruction. The location does not have a large macro risk element. The Las Cruces, New Mexico is not high-risk for unpredictable natural disasters such as earthquakes (KRQE.com, 2010). In fact, New Mexico's least predictable natural disasters may be tornadoes, but large tornadoes only occur about once a decade (ABQ Webmaster, 2011). New Mexico does experience deadly weather in thunderstorms, including hail, but those are generally predictable weather events (ABQ Webmaster, 2011). As for human-driven catastrophes, the location has several points of ingress and egress, which would make it more difficult for a lone individual to engage in an Aurora-style killing in a location like Old Mesilla. That does not mean that the tour group could not be targeted, but the location is such that it is even less probable than in normal scenarios.
While the macro-risks of a catastrophe are low, the area contains a number of micro-risks. Micro risks looks at smaller-scale risks that would be likely to impact one or two members of a group, rather than catastrophic risks. Micro-risks are less likely to have a large impact, but, in most scenarios, micro risks are also more likely to happen. Physically, the Old Mesilla environment has a number of micro risks. First, the plaza is outdoors. Therefore, there are risks from nature including: airborne allergens, insects including bees and wasps, which can be potentially fatal, wild animals, and domestic animals. These risks are not high, but they are virtually impossible to manage. There are risks of injuries from people, both those in the tour group and those outside of the tour group. These risks can be from intentionally inflicted injuries, such as those that would occur during an assault and also unintentional injuries that would be the result of accidents. There is a low crime rate in Old Mesilla, so that the risk of intentional injury from others is low, but there is always a possibility that someone will be a crime victim. Moreover, the risk of accidental injury from others cannot be easily managed. There are also physical risks in the plaza. While most of the streets are level, there are some paving issues, so that trips or slips might occur. The historical environment also makes it possible that someone might be injured by a falling piece of a building. However, the area in Old Mesilla is a very well-maintained and complies with the conditions in the Americans with Disabilities Act, so risks from these injuries should be low.
Identification, Analysis, and Evaluation of Risks
There are no appreciable risks associated with the activity itself. It is a ghost tour, but the tour goes to the outside of locations that are reputed to be haunted. I was unable to find any accounts of people being injured as a direct result of being on a ghost tour. The activity only requires that people be capable of limited physical capabilities, able to walk at a moderate speed, and in reasonable physical health. Therefore,…