Special event planning is a massive undertaking. There is 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 security guard company that understands the nuances of event security.
With event tragedies like the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting and the Manchester Arena Suicide Bombing, it is critical that an event security plan includes employing 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.
- Qualifying Your Company to Offer Event Security Services
- Pre-Event Venue Inspection
- Working with Local Officials
Qualifying Your Company to Offer Event Security Services
The first step to ensuring better event security is to make sure that your security company is operating in accordance with all regulations within the state where the event is being held.
To offer security services at all, you must hold a Private Patrol Operators license (PPO), liability insurance, and employ officers who hold a valid security officer license and have passed a thorough background check. If you already know you are operating in accordance with all state regulations, the next step is convincing clients that your company is capable of handling event security contracts.
Many event planners will look at what events a company has worked on in the past. They will look at things like event type and event size to find a company that is capable and experienced to handle all of their event security needs.
Obviously, this can make winning event security contracts seem impossible if you’re just trying to break into the industry. But there are a few things you can do to give yourself opportunities to step into the events space.
For one, you can hire security guards - either permanently or for specific contracts - who have a lot of event security experience. If you can show that the team that will be on the ground is capable, you might be more likely to win the contract.
Plus, people qualified to be armed guards or who are first aid and CPR certified are great additions to your roster for events. It is common to see dehydration, heatstroke, 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.
Start small. If you haven’t ever provided security for events, look for small opportunities to put a portfolio together. This could mean subcontracting with a larger company in your area that needs help on a larger event, or asking your current clients for referrals to run security for small events.
Pre-Event Venue Inspection
Many event venues are large spaces full of multiple entrances/exits, hallways, and hiding places - essentially dozens to hundreds of potential security threats. A pre-event venue inspection checklist is important for your security guards to familiarize themselves with the space they will be working in.
During the pre-event inspection, event planners and their security team should determine all security checkpoints, 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 going through this event security checklist 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 these instances, it’s important that your security team works with local law enforcement to make sure the appropriate teams are familiar with the security operation.
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.
After the event has concluded, you should debrief both internally with your security guards and with the client to review how the event security 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 officers who went above and beyond and/or identify security 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 getting qualifications in order, 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 and safe.
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