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Safety Planning for Large-Scale Public Events

As an organizer of a public event, health and safety should be your top priority. It is your responsibility to take every precaution to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff, attendees, and the surrounding community in case of a threat or emergency occurring during your event. Thorough preplanning and training amongst all stakeholders can mitigate risk and save lives. Following are the main considerations that should be given during event preplanning to identify risks and plan how to address them.

1. Conduct a Risk Assessment

A risk assessment will help you identify the risks of potential hazards associated with an event to then address how they may be properly managed. Identifying potential hazards includes evaluating risks and assessing the severity and probability of each. Factors such as the age and mobility of attendees will play a role in planning as well. Among the risks that should be considered in the assessment are:

  • Trip and electrical hazards
  • Crowd management 
  • Weather conditions
  • Fire hazards
  • Medical emergencies
  • Security threats

Make an exhaustive list of the risks to safety, who could be affected, preventative measures, and your plan (and contingency plan) for addressing and managing each. While this may seem like an overwhelming endeavor, remember that the more you prepare for a particular risk, the likelier you are to protect and save lives.

2. Develop a Comprehensive Event Safety Plan

Depending on where you hold your event, the location should already have an emergency response plan in place. Ask management for their plan to follow their lead with established protocols while developing your event-specific plan, integrating procedures as relevant to the event along with your assessed risks and solutions for mitigating them. A comprehensive event safety plan should include all of the following elements:

Emergency Response Plan

This plan must clearly define event management staff roles and responsibilities, communication channels, evacuation routes, shelter-in-place guidelines, traffic routes, and assembly points for any threat or emergency that could potentially occur during the event, including an active shooter, act of violence, fire, or inclement weather. Detailed information on entrances and exits should be included along with protocols for assisting differently abled, elderly and children in attendance. Emergency contact information should be included for local emergency services, event security, and key personnel.

Facility Map(s)

A map or maps detailing the venue floor plans, surrounding grounds, and critical locations is essential to launching a coordinated response to an emergency at your event. To prepare responders to act efficiently, building-specific labeling should be included for rooms, hallways, doors, stairwells, hazard locations, utility locations, key boxes, defibrillators, trauma kits, and more. Grounds labeling should include parking areas, athletic fields, surrounding roads, and neighboring properties that may be affected should an emergency occur.

On-Site Medical Facilities

Trained medical personnel and first aid stations equipped with necessary supplies should be present to address any immediate medical needs that may arise. Medical emergency procedures should be clearly defined for event staff, including initiating the appropriate response to serious injuries and health issues.

Event Security

Security staff should be positioned for access control, preventing unauthorized entry, with appropriate security measures including bag checks and metal detectors in place. Security should be instrumental in capacity control, monitoring and controlling the number of attendees to prevent overcrowding and ensure compliance with venue capacity limits. Security staff should also patrol the venue and respond to incidents accordingly. Ideally, the venue would have CCTV cameras and other monitoring tools to enhance security.

Behavior Guidelines

To empower event staff to act swiftly in case of an unwanted or unruly visitor, clear guidelines should be established for addressing unacceptable behavior and protocols to implement should an attendee need to be removed from the event.

Public Communication System

A system for making public announcements should be set up to inform attendees about safety concerns or emergency procedures. Using social media platforms to push real-time updates on the situation can also be useful to communicate important updates to attendees.

3. Train Event Management Staff

Once your comprehensive event safety plan is established, it’s time to train the event management staff to ensure understanding and compliance of the safety plan. All staff must be trained on the safety procedures for each specific event, which can transpire through tabletop exercises, learning management system courses, site walkthroughs, drills and simulations, and security briefings. 

4. Coordination with Local Authorities

Working closely with local law enforcement, fire departments, and emergency medical services can enable quick response capabilities to mitigate threats and save lives. Including these agencies in your public event safety planning from the start can ensure potential voids in your plan are filled using the expertise of these agencies. Law enforcement also can potentially assist with security coverage for the event to better maintain order and inhibit some incidents from occurring at all.

StrataSite® Public Event Planning

The StrataSite® Public Event Plan online platform accounts for and connects many of the above moving parts and roles associated with planning and managing a safe and successful public event. The platform minimizes the chaos of an active threat event by giving responders across multiple agencies a tool to collaboratively build, share, and train around a plan online, including command and control and primary initial response information, plus worksheet data including dispatch/records task lists, agency contacts, radio templates, and more. 

Administrators can invite event organizers and external stakeholders such as law enforcement and emergency response agencies to plan, satellite-map, and annotate perimeters, access points, staging areas, concession, and first aid centers—plus surrounding traffic flow and key considerations related to emergency response. Additional, supplemental information and worksheets helpful for unified workflow can also be uploaded into your plan for access by stakeholders in seconds on the digital asset management (DAM) platform. The included learning management system (LMS) is also accessible by all stakeholders from any web-enabled device to train around the public event plan to reinforce knowledge and prepare stakeholders for an effective and efficient emergency response at your event.

Plans are created in digital formats for distribution or integration across most mobile devices. 

Find out how you can gain access to a free trial of the StrataSite Public Event Plan platform today! Contact us to request a quote. 

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“StrataSite gives my team the online tools to build comprehensive active threat plans with the speed and accuracy that we've never had before. It's a game changer.”

- Sheriff Michael E. Heldman | Hancock County, Ohio


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