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In Case of Emergency - Does Your Event Have a Plan?

Break glass in emergency
No need to break the glass. Your Emergency Plan will help you know exactly what to do!

I recently shared the B.A.R. Method, I use when the Unexpected Happens. However, this method is not the best approach in an emergency. When every second counts, being prepared for an emergency is not just best practice; it's a necessity.  

The key to successfully navigating an emergency is found in having a well-thought-out Emergency Plan.  A comprehensive plan will allow you to respond without hesitation in an emergency.  In this guide, I'll walk you through the essential steps and specifics to include in creating a foolproof emergency plan for your events - no matter the size of your event.

Step 1: Identify Potential Risks

Start with a thorough risk assessment for your event. Create a comprehensive list of every emergency that your event could experience. Consider factors such as weather, venue-related risks, medical emergencies, power outages, and even unexpected cancellations. The more comprehensive your risk assessment, the better you can tailor your Emergency Plan to address specific scenarios.

Step 2: Assemble Your Emergency Team

Identify who you will be turning to for help during an emergency. Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each emergency response team member. Your team might include your staff, venue staff, security personnel, medical professionals, and even external agencies like local authorities. Ensure everyone understands their role and has reviewed the Emergency Plan.

Step 3: Establish Communication Protocols

Communication is paramount during emergencies. Outline a communication strategy that includes methods for alerting event staff, attendees, and external parties. Consider using a combination of text messages, walkie-talkies, and social media updates. Your plan should identify the primary point of contact, include a list of emergency contact numbers, and establish a central communication hub.

Step 4: Emergency Evacuation Procedures

Define evacuation routes and assembly points for different scenarios. Your venue should already have evacuation procedures in place. Ask them to share their plan and the areas they identify as meeting points. Ensure that your Emergency Team is aware of these routes. Identify how you will communicate the routes to your attendees during an emergency. Will you have staff directing attendees? Will you use signage and verbal announcements? Include procedures for assisting individuals with disabilities during evacuations.

Step 5: First Aid and Medical Support

Have a clear plan for handling medical emergencies and communicate this to all event stakeholders. Identify who will call 9-1-1. Identify who can provide CPR or use an AED. Specify the location of first aid stations and medical personnel. Include details on accessing emergency medical services and ensure that medical staff are equipped with necessary supplies.

Step 6: Security Measures

Address security concerns by detailing your security protocols. This could include bag checks, entry and exit procedures, and coordination with local law enforcement if necessary. Clearly outline how to handle potential threats or disruptions.

Step 7: Contingency Plans for Key Elements

Develop contingency plans for critical aspects of your event, such as power failures, technical malfunctions, or unexpected cancellations by speakers or performers. Consider alternative options and communication strategies for each contingency.

Step 8: Regular Review and Drills

Train your team on the Emergency Plan. Consider if conducting mock drills is appropriate. Once on-site for your event, schedule a time to review the plan, evacuation routes, and the location of phones, first aid kits, and AEDs with your team. This proactive approach will help your team respond efficiently and calmly should a real emergency occur.

Step 9: Post-Event Evaluation and Update

After each event, conduct a thorough evaluation of how well the Emergency Plan was executed during your debrief. Use feedback from staff, attendees, and emergency responders to identify areas for improvement. Update your Emergency Plan accordingly to enhance its effectiveness for future events.


While it may be easy to skip this step as you plan your event, please don’t. An emergency can happen at any time and anywhere. A well-thought-out emergency plan can save you precious seconds. Without it, an emergency can turn into a tragedy and ain’t nobody got time for that. Stay safe, stay prepared, and keep your events running smoothly and safely!

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