In this age of COVID-19, all-hazards planning has never been more integral to effective major event management. But the size of these events (including major disasters) means planning is often parceled out between a diverse set of stakeholders, potentially increasing operational risk. What, then, is needed to mitigate risk and enhance major-event emergency response capabilities?
What goes in to major event management?
Well, a number of factors go into major event management, beginning with a long planning period and extensive training (with response agencies). But even with years of planning and preparation, it’s easy to get things wrong.
That’s because mitigating public health and safety risk is simply beyond the capacity of any one major-event stakeholder. Sponsors and organisers have to work closely with emergency response agencies like police, fire, and ambulance, as well as with public officials to ensure that mass gatherings remain secure and attendees stay healthy. Effective interagency cooperation alone can achieve the goals of preventing injury, suffering, or death from poor planning and preventable major incidents.
Challenges to major event management
But interagency cooperation doesn’t just happen automatically. Understanding interagency cooperation precepts is an important first step toward securing major events.
On the other hand, precepts like collaboration, coordination, and communication only work if they’re deployed coherently in an interoperable framework that enables multiple stakeholders to work well with each other. Here, interoperable technologies help facilitate more efficient communication as well as lets stakeholders deploy the best resources more efficiently.
Why the emergency management action plan is central to effective major event management
There’s one final piece missing, though. Effective interagency cooperation during a major-event emergency still requires targeting and formalising inputs, such as the emergency action plan (EAP).
The EAP is integral to ensuring health and safety at a major event. Its two primary goals being to (1) identify all potential emergency hazards and (2) mitigate the risk (to life and property) posed by those hazards.
How to get the best out your EAP? The plan itself should be highly site-specific, hashed out between the event organiser, relevant public officials, and emergency management agencies. To ensure timely notification, warning, and evacuation in the event of an emergency, the EAP should also include the following:
- An organisational chart laying out contacts to notify in the case of an emergency
- Clear instructions and procedures on how to notify those individuals
- A clear list of responsibilities for emergency tasks assigned to specific roles, e.g. who is responsible for identifying, evaluating, classifying, then officially declaring an emergency under pre-determined conditions
The missing ingredient: reviewing emergency action plans to catch all major event management contingencies
Beyond that, stakeholders should review and (routinely) test EAPs once developed. Often, emergency agencies will put out best-practice plan templates, including guidance like the following:
- Analyse the vulnerability of your event site to natural, manmade, and event-generated emergencies
- Comply with all public (local, state, and national) protocols for on-site emergency medical services
- Coordinate emergency action planning with all relevant jurisdictions, agencies, and individuals
- Create detailed site plans, including locations of all commercial services, first aid, assembly areas, vehicle access for emergency vehicles, etc.
- Centralise activity in an emergency operations center and resource center
- Disseminate primary and secondary communications systems
- Include standalone annexes for likely major risks, including active shooter, bomb threat, civil disturbance, emergency weather, fire, hazardous materials, etc.
- Conduct routine plan trainings in the run-up to the event; revise the plan where necessary
In closing, the level of risk involved in putting on a major event is significant. So too are the penalties for getting major event management wrong. For stakeholders, though, there’s a solution. Effective all-hazards planning for major events helps mitigate risk and keep attendees safe.
So, to learn more, download our All-Hazards Planning Guide to Major Event Management: