Special event planning is a massive undertaking. There are a laundry list of unique requirements & components that must come together in order for any event to be considered successful. But one of the most important aspects of any large scale event is contracting with a guard company that understands the nuances of event security.
With an influx of major event tragedies over the past few years, like the Boston Marathon Bombing and the Manchester Arena Suicide Bombing, it is critical that event managers & planners secure proficient & well-trained security officers who have experience in specific tactics such as risk management, first aid, and crowd control.
Event security officers must be able to maintain and manage large crowds, an already challenging task that is exacerbated when alcohol is served on-site. An experienced security team must be able to handle situations discreetly and quickly so the rest of the attendees continue to enjoy the event.
But that's just the beginning. In this article, we will discuss 4 key factors that are essential for running a successful special event security & safety plan.
Choosing a Security Company
When contracting an event security services company, first and foremost, you need to make sure that the company is operating in accordance with all regulations within the state where the event is being held. The security company must hold a Private Patrol Operators license (PPO) and liability insurance. The company must also employ officers who hold a valid security officer license and have passed thorough background check.
After it is confirmed that a security company is operating in accordance with state regulations, we recommend looking at the types of events and properties the company has provided security for in the past. Many regional contract security companies will cover a range of events, so it's important to find one who specializes specifically in events of your size. Asking for referrals is a great way to gauge the level of service that you will receive.
Plus, it's a bonus if the guards who are hired are First Aid and CPR certified. It is common to see dehydration, heat stroke, and victims passing out at large music festival style events. Having a security officer equipped to deal with basic medical needs will help to ensure attendees are getting attention immediately.
Pre-Event Venue Inspection
Event venues are often large spaces with different alcoves throughout, perfect spots for potential security threats. A pre-event venue inspection checklist is important for security staff to familiarize themselves with the space they will be working.
During the pre-event inspection, event-planners and their security team should determine all security check-points, officer posts, points of concern, and any other special requirements for that specific venue and event.
A well thought out, step-by-step event security checklist should include, at the minimum:
- Inspecting & learning the venue inside and out.
- Conducting a full risk assessment audit.
- Assessing the potential for large-scale attacks.
- Crowd controlling measures.
- Keeping communication & information flow regular and online.
By doing the walk-throughs together, both the event-planners and security company can discuss what the best security operation is for the event and set expectations early.
Working with Local Officials
Most events will have local law enforcement officials & first responders on-site for the day of the event, like EMTs or firefighting personnel. In instances where local officials will be on-site, it is important that the contracted security team work with officials to make sure the appropriate teams are familiar with the security operation. It's common for staff, security, and first responders to not communicate effectively. But every team must know their posts and how to contact other teams, should they need to.
For events that don’t have local officials on-site, there is still potential that they may need to be called in. In this case, the contracted security team should have a plan of action in place that clearly defines how and when a security officer should reach out to these entities. Event management and staff should review this plan of action prior to the start of the event.
All staff members (security and non-security personnel) must be familiar with all safety protocols in case an incident should occur.
Post Event Review
After the event has concluded, it is important for planners and security team to debrief and review how the security operation went. This exercise allows all parties to see where they were successful and where they could improve. If an incident occurred that wasn’t handled properly, this is a chance to figure out what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again.
The review process also gives supervisors a chance to give kudos to security officers who went above and beyond, as well as, identify officers who need additional training.
So while it may seem like a large undertaking, creating a well thought out security plan and executing at a high level during the day-of the event ensures everyone has their bases covered. By choosing the right company, running through pre-event tactics, working with local authorities and conducting a post event review, you can be sure all attendees and hosts will leave happy.
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