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Elements of Event Security

Are you getting ready to plan for a large or small event? Do you have a template and know where to start? While this may feel overwhelming to begin with, take it one piece at a time, delegate a section to a staff member on your team and let them own it. If you don’t have a robust staff, ask a security professional for advice.

Obviously, you want your event to be fun and safe. Start planning early and conduct progress review meetings along with rehearsals at key times to insure you are on target. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Think about the last time you went to an event and what you liked and did not like. Consider going to another like event for best practices. To get started, here is a road map with six essential elements for planning.

1. Do a Risk Assessment – Start with the basics. Pull crime statistics for area, check on current news events to include competing interest in your area the same day of your event, know the weather and include safety concerns such as hazards at your venue. Then, think of the most likely and the most dangerous course of action that could happen at your event. Always consider man made and natural hazards. Keep these updated along the way and during the event especially the weather.

2. Build a Security Plan and Team – First; ask the event leader how they define success at the end of the event. Understandably, you want a good customer experience in which they felt safe and secure as you want them to come back if it’s a recurring event. After that, thoroughly review your threat assessment. Think of ways to mitigate your risk. Put emphasis on entering the event, during the event and leaving the event. Focus on a contingency plan especially for weather and an egress plan for emergencies. Build a medical plan. If it’s hot weather, how do you handle heat injuries? Where is your medical treatment area? What is your medical evacuation plan to include ground and air? Include your local First Responders in your planning especially if you have a big event. Once you determine the basic construct of your plan, you will need team leaders to help especially for big events. Span of control is essential for success. If this starts to feel overwhelming, it might be a good idea to seek advice from a security company.

3. Managing Traffic – Having a solid traffic and parking plan sets the tone for the event no matter what size. It’s always good to start with a map overview followed by a solid terrain walk with staff. Work closely with projected numbers of people attending and plan for at least 10% more. Use security personnel and local non-profits to assist with parking. Also, use signage to help with directions and messages. Have solid ingress and egress points as you don’t want to have choke points. Remember handicap parking, VIP parking, and parking for emergency personnel. If you have a large parking area, highly visible security patrols are a great cost effective way to give everyone a peace of mind while they are at the event.

4. Access Point – Just like with traffic, you want to create a positive but secure experience at the access control area. If you elect to have an access point, put customer service personnel here with a focus on security. There will be issues and staff should know how to handle these with confidence. Remember, you want to keep the flow going while maintaining security. You may consider a credentialing system and the use of technology to help. After you develop an access control plan, now consider egress especially for emergency situations. First Responders and Security Professionals are a great resource to ask these questions.

5. Administration and Logistics – The best of plans will not succeed unless it has a solid administration and logistics plan. The administrative plan should know how many security personnel are on site for pay, emergency contact, and accountability. Your logistics plan should include meals and water for your staff, restroom breaks, uniforms, etc. If you are using any signs, barriers, traffic cones the person assigned for logistics should be able to support this before, during, and post event. If your footprint is large, consider how your security leaders move around such as ATVs, golf carts, etc.

6. Communication – This is essential from many aspects. The obvious is to have a communication plan for your security team. Keep it simple and secure to include primary and secondary means. Consider how you communicate with people in attendance. Signs, social media, mass broadcast, etc are all good options to consider. The use of certain “code words” can help for emergency situations. Have one security leader that’s in direct communication with the event leader to insure everything is being supported to keep the event going smoothly. During your planning phase, meet key personnel and know how to get in touch with them. All members of your team should have a communication directory on their person during the event.

As I mentioned in the beginning, the earlier you start planning the better. Have progress reviews along the way to work the plan and conduct rehearsals as needed. Keep in close communication with the event leader to ensure you are supporting their intent. Be flexible and keep your plan updated as you get closer to the time of the event. At the end of the event, do an after action review and consider how to make it better next time.