Event venues take great care in implementing safety and security protocol. Guest safety is paramount. Event guests arrive at venues with a heightened level of alertness and take comfort in the implementation of effective security measures. This is critical as potential attendees will make a decision to attend an event based on their own risk assessment process. If an event is perceived to be risky, fewer people will come. The consideration of event security as part of the sales proposition is a modern revelation. Historically, event security was often thought of as a cost and an inconvenience by event promoters.
“Our fans definitely want to feel safe, they want to see security, but they definitely don’t want to be inconvenienced,” says Cathy Lanier, Chief Security Officer for the National Football League (NFL).
The use of established security measures like magnetometers, clear bag policy and canine units are effective, proactive measures to reduce vulnerability. Vulnerability is the only variable in the risk equation we can control. Therefore, the goal of crowd management is to reduce vulnerability. Venue security teams train their staff vigorously and employ incident command models to further manage an event venue’s vulnerability and reduce risk.
Risk= Threat x Vulnerability x Consequence
Risk= Potential harm of any bad event
Threat= Probability a bad event will occur
Consequence= Damage done by a particular event
Vulnerability= How susceptible you are to harm from a bad event.
The Only Person Responsible for Your Safety, is You.
Hopefully, these proactive security measures are effective deterrents and nothing bad happens. If something bad does happen though, the only person responsible for your safety, is you. Event attendees must be situationally aware of their environment and have a plan.
“Fearful situations are happening more often than most would have ever believed. There is also a prevailing thought that bad things happen to other people, not me.” James DeMeo
A few years ago while working on a college campus in San Diego, I conducted an emergency response training for the instructors in our recreation program. The staff expressed real concern that we (building operators) could not protect them from potential threats and expected our emergency response plan to have a precise course of action for them to activate should a threat occur. In some ways I was surprised that people were so eager to entrust others with something as critical as their own survival. On the other hand, I know how overwhelming and frightening even thinking about a crisis scenario is. I recognize that people justify a lack of preparation by downplaying the probability of being involved in an emergency. They will disassociate themselves from the decision making process in favor of following the behaviors of the group or a perceived leader (this is why effective Trained Crowd Manager training is so critical).
In an emergency situation, the typical crowd response is:
- 10% remain cool and behave appropriately
- 80% act stunned and take time to make a decision
- 10% act inappropriate or counter productive
The key to increasing survivability is to create more time. On an individual level, this means people need to recognize the risk and take decisive action. When people are situationally aware, they can more quickly assess risk and activate on a well thought out course of action.
In his book, What’s Your Plan, James A. DeMeo talks about the importance of being situationally aware and having a plan when out in public. DeMeo reminds us that “Knowledge is, without question, power. The best way to combat fear is through education and preparation…” Unfortunately, as we have seen in the news, bad events happen… and they happen in all sorts of places. DeMeo goes through a handful of potential targets and emergency scenarios and encourages readers to consider threats, make a risk assessment and develop potential plans should an emergency situation occur. What’s Your Plan is an easy, but thought provoking read. It isn’t industry specific, jargon heavy or scary. What’s Your Plan is a powerful resource for all of us… not just event and venue professionals. Many of the scenarios DeMeo reviews are soft targets like malls, work environments, schools and places of worship; this makes the book a useful guide for building situational awareness in today’s society. By asking pointed questions and making environmental observations, DeMeo breaks potentially threatening situations down to component parts that are easier to comprehend and think through. This helps to remove the fear and overwhelming anxiety people have when envisioning themselves in a crisis scenario. Assessing risk in these terms allows people to recognize a threat earlier and take decisive action, thus increasing their chances of surviving an emergency.
In some ways, we as Americans are more alert than ever to the threats that surround us. We realize there are dangers out there. Conversely, we are more distracted than ever when navigating the physical world through our digital devices. Staring at a screen and wearing headphones in high density or risky environments is the opposite of being situationally aware. DeMeo encourages people to limit their distractions, pay attention to their surroundings and plan for the potential scenarios they may encounter. What’s Your Plan is an important book and I certainly encourage reading it. As DeMeo reminds us, “now is the time to take the necessary steps to ensure your own personal safety, and it all starts with having a plan.”
Please contact us if you have any questions about implementing a Trained Crowd Manager Program, creating an Emergency Response Plan or putting together specific security policy and procedure.