ILEA Quick Tips For Event Planners: November 2016

Making an Emergency Action Plan (EAP).

With all the major events happening in our market, it is time for us to start thinking about events differently. Do you know what your venue security provides for your event? Will they perform CPR on a guest? Do you know where the AEDs are in the facility? What is the weather evacuation plan? What happens if you find your event caught in civil unrest or an active shooter situation? It sounds dramatic, but this is the world we live in, and by creating an Emergency Action Plan, you and your team can be prepared. No event is too small to have some type of plan to deal with natural or human-caused hazards. As the Event Planner, you are often solely responsible for creating an environment that is safe and secure.

What is an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)?
An EAP is a written document produced by the person responsible for the event. It is a guide that will identify any potential hazards and provide guidance to all those participating on what actions to take to minimize or prevent loss of life or property. This is also very helpful in cases where you need to involve city, county or state officials to help resolve or intervene in a situation. This plan is often required when submitting your permits. Each plan will vary based on size, location and type of gathering.

Where to start?
Conduct a risk assessment to identify the vulnerabilities. Involve your staff and the vendors who are going to be a part of the event to help you recognize areas of concern. City, county and state officials are very helpful in the planning process because they have the same goals of safety and security as you do. These entities may have protocols you will need to include based on their involvement. If you are overwhelmed, there are professionals who can come in and help you with this process. The Department of Homeland Security has some very good information to assist you at:

What should you include?
This will be dependent upon type and size of event, but some of the basics will remain the same. One thing all plans should have is the notification list and contact information for responsible parties. It is important for everyone to know the chain of command when making the call to evacuate or contact the authorities. You will want to call out specific incidents and emergencies that are possible and the response plan for them. Maps should be included of the venue or site along with emergency exits, command center, AED locations and other things related to the plan. A Business Impact Assessment (BIA) may be something you want to include as well to help you determine how you recover from the disruption.

What’s next?
Once you have completed your plan, you should make sure you share it with all those involved as appropriate. Take the time to communicate the plan with staff, committees and vendors. Events that have a higher risk than most may want to conduct some tabletop exercises with possible scenarios. If you have concerns, reach out to law enforcement as they often have information of potential threats before anyone else. After the event, take the time to evaluate your plan and make adjustments if needed.

Putting together an EAP is a large task but one that can potentially save lives and property in the long run, so please take the time. Don’t wait to reach out to city, county and state officials—they want to help you plan and not just receive your call to respond. I have spent a lot of time connecting with them for my events, and they are excited about opening up the conversation with our community to learn from us, as well as provide us with important resources.  

Meghan Gustafson has over 10 years of event experience in the Twin Cities is currently the Event Manager for The Basilica Landmark and The Basilica Block Party.  She is also the Immediate Past President of the International Live Events Association (ILEA) Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter.

International Live Events Association (ILEA) is the new name for the International Special Events Society (ISES). ILEA represents and supports more than 5,000 members globally – event professionals who do business together, share knowledge, nurture talent and progress the live events industry. For more information on how an ILEA professional can help you with your event, please contact