8 Steps to Hosting a Safe and Successful Event

Planning special events on campus should include ICS and appropriate crowd management approaches.

Planning any event is difficult. Planning for the potential risks and hazards associated with it is even more challenging but essential to the event’s success. The following steps should help you ensure the safety and security of your organization’s special occasions.

1. Identify the Scope of Your Event
Before you schedule anything, you should consider the scope of the event or mass gathering, the risks to spectators and participants, community impact, the emergency support required (personnel and logistics) and any negative risk factors. These negative impacts to your campus could include community standing, reputation and financial costs.

The primary goal of contingency planning is to be prepared for all emergencies that might negatively impact the campus. These plans are the specific written assignments of roles and responsibilities during normal operations as well as major campus activities.

RELATED: Event Security Tips and Tactics For Public Safety Officers

2. Determine the Type of Event Taking Place
First, campus public safety administrators and other stakeholders must determine the type of event that will be held. Could it be considered a special event and/or a mass gathering? A special event is a non-routine activity within a campus that brings together a large number of people from on and off campus. Emphasis is not placed on the total number of people attending but rather the impact on the campus and its stakeholder’s ability to respond to a large-scale event that has the potential to draw exceptional demands on response services. A special event requires additional planning, preparedness and mitigation efforts by the university, local emergency response and public safety agencies.

Planning considerations should include time constraints, command and support staff availability, NIMS-required training, campus safety concerns, manpower requirements and emergency response issues. It also includes identifying persons responsible for particular types of hazards and risks assessments, lead agency, resources, expenses and jurisdictions.

It is important to evaluate the type of crowd that will attend your event.

  • Ambulatory – usually calm unless agitated
  • Limited movement – crowd has limited or restricted movement; requires additional planning
  • Expressive – emotional release
  • Aggressive – initially verbal, open to lawlessness
  • Protestors (for example pickets and marches) – organized to some degree and are capable of attacking or violence
  • Degree of organization – can they become spontaneously aggressive? Is there a volatility triggering point and to what extent of violence is this crowd capable of?

3. Involve Appropriate Stakeholders
One of the first steps in planning an event is to bring together those who are hosting it with those who are responsible for public safety within the campus and community. A multidisciplinary planning team should be composed of the key university personnel, affected stakeholders and any agency that holds a functional stake in the event (e.g., emergency management, law enforcement, fire and rescue, public works/utilities, public health, etc.). The planning team should also develop its structure using ICS Unified Command as a model (that is command and support staff, sections, branches, divisions and groups, as needed).

The university should consider obtaining legal advice early in the planning stage. Items that warrant consideration include liability for injuries, acts or omissions, and financial obligations incurred in responding to major emergencies occasioned by the event.

4. Identify Who Will Be Attending
Venue management must be aware of the characteristics of the expected audience that is attracted to a particular artist, political figure or event. Crowd control is always an important planning consideration – both the likely makeup of the attendees and how to control them. Remember that you can anticipate your crowd behaviors through intelligence based on past artists or the type of event.

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