Preparing for Emergencies

October 6, 2017 |
security, emergency

It’s an unfortunate reality that a major piece of event planning and strategy is event security and emergency preparedness. Weather events and mass casualty events can and do happen without discrimination or advanced notice. The best thing any event professional can do is simply be prepared, and be aware.

Have a plan

If you don’t already, make sure you have a written-out plan for every eventuality. You should be prepared to deal with the most common types of incidents, including fire, bomb threat, explosion, active shooter, medical incident, or food borne illness. This document should include important medical information, maps, important contact information, and communications strategies for the emergency. If you don’t have a plan for an upcoming event or meeting, make sure to connect with an event planning firm with experience doing so. If you do have one, just like your smoke detectors it is good to review each year.

Communicate the plan

When you get to your event site or venue, request to meet with the property’s security director to go through emergency procedures – this can be done in advance as well. You’ll want to address the mutual expectations of your responsibilities versus the venue’s should an emergency arise. Generally, the three major areas to address are the venue’s plans for evacuation events (i.e. hurricane), shelter-in-place events (i.e. active shooter), and medical emergencies (i.e. Food borne illness). Make sure to address the venue’s expectations with regard to attendee communication after an incident, and coordinate the plan to communicate with attendees – you’ll also want a back-up plan should that method not be available. Determine who will communicate with attendees, police, family members, etc. and who will manage the emotions of the attendees and staff. Though it is less of an immediate need, crisis counselors and people trained to deal with the emotional needs of everyone involved are important members of every crisis team.

Security Q&A

Our friends at BizBash conducted an informative Q&A with Todd Madison, a former Secret Service agent and security professional. See our key takeaways below and read the full article here.

  • What would you tell event organizers to look for—and to ask of—their venues, both for indoor and outdoor events?
    • Open the lines of communication prior to an event and engage with the event management team at the facility.
    • Be aware of all access points and be sure the venue can provide security. If not, seek out a security consulting company that’s well versed in issues that might arise.
  • What are some fixes to problems that may arise which event planners can make before an event starts?
    • Connect with local and federal law enforcement officials so that they know about your event and if there is something to watch out for, like a controversial speaker or attendee, they are prepared.
  • What would you advise event planners tell potential event attendees regarding security concerns?
    • Provide them with information and look for ways to make them comfortable.
    • Put in layers of security that aren’t so noticeable and try to make the monitoring of activity as seamless as possible.
    • You want to prepare guests so there are no surprises, but there’s no reason to scare them.

If you need help taking a look through your emergency plan give us a ring and we will be happy to help.