Handling Event Security For A Great Event
Posted in Spotlights on April 20, 2018
Event security is a phrase that can put a lot of organizers on edge, especially in this day and age. Events are targets because they bring large groups of people together. While we shouldn’t be living life in fear of what might happen, you should always be prepared, but more importantly, you should be vigilant. This is exactly where having event security comes into play: having a proactive support that can eliminate issues, while at the same time responding reactively to any potentially hazardous situations. It is up to you and your team to come up with an event risk assessment plan and put it into action. Any security plan should include the following steps: an in-depth site inspection, hiring of security, emergency safety points, safety clauses, and cancellation clauses.
The DHS defines risk through an equation: Risk = Consequences x Likelihood
Further, the DHS defines Likelihood as being a threat multiplied by how vulnerable you would be to it.
Although not all of these points are controllable, you can do your best to minimize risk by decreasing the likelihood of any particular scenario.
One of the most defining parts of the best generals in history was that they would survey the battlefield before engaging. This helped them realize points where they would be vulnerable, where they would be strong, and how to best utilize the area to their advantage. You should do the same with your event. Here is a quick checklist of what to look for during the site inspection:
-Description of venue’s security plans. The more you can get from the venue, the better. They might even have a preferred security service that is employed. Getting recommendations is ideal because the security is already likely to know where crowds gather, access to fire escapes, and how vulnerable certain points of the building are. Again, the risk is consequences times likelihood.
-A complete, in-depth tour of the facility. Just like you should bring on a security service that is already familiar with your venue, you should aim to become as intimately involved with the venue as possible. There are other benefits that you can come up with: you’ll be able to accurately place check-in spots, tables, chairs, and any other event paraphernalia.
-Access to any Emergency Procedures Manuals. When an emergency comes up, the last thing you want to be doing is learning while it happens. Learn exactly how the venue proceeds with any emergencies. Another benefit of this step is that the venue may already have contacts with emergency services that are nearby.
-History of how the venue has handled death, injury, and conflicts. If the venue has been around for a long time, they should have news articles or cases wherein they had to handle issues. Even if the venue is newer, they should still have some sort of list of incidents and how they were handled.
Other items to look for when designing your event’s security plan include:
-Are there any planned protests near your event?
-Are there any other festivals/events planned near your event?
-Do you have the necessary permits?
-Do your vendors (if any) have necessary permits?
Information for Security
Once you have done your site inspection, you should have everything ready for your event security team. This goes from access points to emergency procedures, to parking, to who can do what. Remember - the more you can give them, the better they will be able to plan.
Emergency Safe Points
If something happens at your event, are your prepared to effectively divert attendees to a safe area?
One of the most important parts of any security plan is handling and controlling access (and exit) points. This entails:
-Knowing where attendees can enter and exit the event
-Knowing how parking is handled. If you are expecting a lot of cars, consider looking into event venues where there is adequate and secure parking. Also look into speaking with local law enforcement about directing traffic.
-How will attendees enter? What items will they be allowed to carry with them?
One factor to consider for event security is to make it as invisible to the attendee as possible to reduce anxiety. Events should be enjoyable, and not cause undue concern. Speak with security teams about how they generally handle events. Depending on the size of your event, you may want to employ a mixture of private security and police officers. Although the local police department might not be able to assist if there are staffing restraints, they can probably refer you to an ideal person. Overall, going with a security team is ideal, but if you have a larger event or one where you expect attendees to get rowdy, employing the authority of the police is a good idea.
For smaller events, you may not want to have any sort of Health or EMS personnel on hand, although you should still be aware of nearby hospitals/medical centers and have basic medical supplies on hand. The larger the event, the more having some sort of rapid response emergency becomes mandatory. Events during the summer (and even spring) can have instances of dehydration or loss of consciousness.
Volunteers must be walked through an orientation program, and given an appropriate level background check for the situation. A casual concert will not require a significant combing of background compared to an event luncheon hosting a former government official or celebrity.
Event Safety Clauses
After the awful shooting in October 2017 at Las Vegas during a concert, we saw the event organizers receiving lawsuits. Create a Terms and Conditions that protects you against lawsuits caused by third parties. When it comes to preventing lawsuits, as mentioned above, look for proving that you had no responsibility in the matter. If you can prove that you’ve done site inspections and taken all necessary precautions, you will protect yourself, your employees, and your reputation.
Should responsibilities and liabilities be mutual? It’s up to you. At the very least, look for Mutual Indemnification.
You must show that you have done everything possible to prevent injury.
These days, event insurance is mandatory. Cancellations happen (read our post about it here), as do other unforeseen problems. In addition, speak with any vendors or sponsors at your event so that you are aware of any potential changes that they might be making. Make sure that they also have insurance.
Alcohol. If alcohol is allowed at your event, security must have a physical presence to deter would-be abusers. A low-tolerance system tends to work best in these sorts of scenarios. Another option is having a “beer garden” area for adults wherein this is the only place where attendees can consume alcohol, and they are limited to a certain amount of drinks.
Lost Children. Are you running a family oriented event? You need to have an area for families to reconvene with lost children. A plan must be created to help take care of children displaced from their family. You might even want to have special wristbands for children under a certain age. If you're planning a family-friendly event, you will need to take even more precaution with giving background checks to all employees and volunteers.
In the event that something happens before your event begins, you should be prepared to cancel it, or even reschedule it. Any event that you run should have a clause that states that there will either be refunds or credits for a future event.
Security is something that can put a lot of event organizers on edge, but having a plan in place is the best possible way to have a safe event. It all comes down to hiring the right team and by doing a lot of research on the venue you have chosen. Event insurance is a must, as is a cancellation clause to protect yourself. And remember - events are about having a good time, and having proper safety procedures in place is the right thing to have to ensure that the attendees create positive memories.