Ensuring security at special events is always an essential. But the recent spate of terror attacks, including those in Paris on Friday, brings this painful issue back into the spotlight.
Special Events has frequently covered the topic, offering expert advice:
In a Special Events exclusive, Frank Sebastian, emergency management chair of giant Seattle festival Seafair, shares these comments on safeguarding a large public event. Seafair includes everything from neighborhood events to city-wide celebrations:
- Communications between all stakeholders is essential, both pre-event and during the event.
- Plan and exercise your event "all-hazards emergency operations plan" prior to your actual event.
- Incident Command System (or ICS) is an effective tool for managing special event security. [Note: ICS was initially developed to address problems of inter-agency responses to wildfires in California and Arizona, but is now a component of the U.S. National Incident Management System.]
- Having a Unified Command structure, with public and private partners, planned and in place is essential in the occurrence of any emergency.
- Security assessments should include situational awareness and monitoring of social and public media in advance of an event.
SOCIAL MEDIA KEY Indeed, social media is becoming a vital tool in assessing threats to events.
"From my perspective, I can tell you that we used social media heavily this past summer," notes Melissa Jurcan, CSEP, director of sales, marketing and communications for Seafair. Her role includes managing the public affairs office.
"The EM team monitored it closely at every event and would tip me off as well as others who sit on our executive committee when there was something that stood out and that we needed to be aware of from a safety/security standpoint," she adds.
Security expert Michael Hodge agrees.
"Monitoring social media these days are excellent sources for alerts and awareness," he says. "For instance, many news outlets provide text alerts that notify users on issues on emergency and disaster management, active shooter incidents, and real time safety issues."
TEACH SAFETY TO ATTENDEES Hodge says event planners could take a tip from the airline industry for keeping attendees safe.
"Event planners can do a better job at providing notices as signage or via electronic displays of exits and evacuations points in emergencies," he explains. "Take the airline industry--a plane never departs until passengers learn safety measures. The same should be done for facilities and premises."