Safe and sound
By Alain Normand
Event coordinators need to learn to balance the fun elements with the safe elements in their planning.
By Alain Normand
Doing a risk assessment is the first step. Event coordinators should evaluate the capacity of the area in terms of crowd size, ability to exit quickly, screening for unwanted guests, ensuring access routes for emergency services, and reducing fire or accident hazards. Considerations must be made for the weather. What if this is during a heat wave? Are there enough shaded areas. Will there be water distributed or accessible? Is there first aid on site? What if the weather turns ugly? Who has the authority to make the call if you need to cancel? What about the risk of a stampede? Are there enough barricades to control crowds? Are there enough exits to ensure quick evacuation?
All of these elements need to be planned. Sending a few security guards or even paid duty police is not sufficient. Each event should have an overall safety plan that aims first at preventing incidents but also at having quick response mechanisms in place should something happen. Defining roles and responsibilities is crucial. The plan should include tasks to be undertaken by security, police, first aid organizations, and volunteer groups. Scenarios need to be developed, reviewed by all those involved, and if possible tested to ensure they are realistic.
Everyone involved in the event must become familiar with the plan. The written plan should be distributed but an orientation or briefing on the plan should be included for all participants. Within the plan, there needs to be adequate communications systems to ensure rapid coordination of response to an incident and communications protocols should be included. How do you inform the people on site? Are there public address systems? What about people outside who call in because they have heard something went wrong? Who deals with the media?
All of these concerns need to be addressed as part of the event planning and are just as important as determining who should be the main act, and where you are locating food vendors and washroom facilities.
Alain Normand is the manager of emergency measures for the City of Brampton (www.brampton.ca).