According to a 2015 Nielsen study, more than 32 million people attend at least one music festival in the U.S. each year, with a third of those attending more than one festival. Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Coachella are just a few of the events that will bring together thousands of people this summer. So what should emergency managers and event organizers do to prepare?
While we all understand that we need to be prepared for the unimaginable, many times we do not know where to start. With large masses of people gathering at these music events this summer, it is key that event planners, and the emergency response teams that support them, have a plan of action to respond to a potential crisis.
The below are five components of this crisis management response that should be considered by both event organizers and emergency management personnel in this planning process.
- Develop a Constituency Plan
One of the first steps in preparing for a large event is developing your constituency plan. This plan should encompass a clear understanding of the demographics that will be attending the event, knowing the entire venue inside and out, knowing the potential weather constraints and how mobility will be affected, are all critical steps in effectively preparing and carrying out your emergency preparedness plan. One of the best practices in ensuring this is done properly is to reach out to the event organizers and gather a better understanding of the size, people and place you are working well, prior to the event happening.
- Communicate with Attendees
An important aspect to managing an event involving thousands of people is being able to quickly communicate with all attendees. Most event organizers think about capturing attendees’ email and phone information for promotional reasons, but it is also important to have a way to communicate life-saving information in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. There are a number of tools that provides you with the ability to send out mass emails, recorded phone calls and text messages quickly and effectively in case of an emergency. As per our first point, make sure there is a clear definition if emergency information distribution is something that will be the responsibility of the event organizers or first responders.
- Determine Emergency Response Roles
One vital component in being prepared is making the emergency personnel roles and responsibilities clear at your event. It is a common saying within the emergency response industry that you shouldn’t “exchange business cards at the scene.” Yet, it is surprising how often that still happens. Event organizers and category 1 responders should communicate and work together prior to the event taking place. Make sure that emergency response roles are pre-defined and communicated between all involved organizations.
- Utilize Social Media
Another key tool that allows you to share important information in case of an emergency is social media. Ask event organisers to encourage attendees to follow the designated emergency preparedness team’s twitter handle before the event takes place in case of an emergency. Additionally, the event organiser or emergency preparedness team can send out tweets with the event’s hashtag attached to get the information congregated in one cohesive social stream. Monitoring social media chatter about your event will also help you locate possible emergencies as people are likely to talk about their experiences.
- Deploy a Crisis Information Management System
Finally, it is essential that your team has the right technology in place communicate internally and share details regarding all emergency needs related to your event. A crisis information management system will provide situational awareness and help coordinate information management and resource allocation. By using a crisis information management system, your team is able to up share position-specific activity and significant events, which provides your organization with a real-time, common operating picture of the lifecycle of an incident.
As we enter the festival season, I encourage you to make emergency preparedness a priority. I hope the tips above help you in your planning efforts to ensure utmost safety during these large crowded events.