Member Advisory: Crowd Safety
May 23, 2017
Following the terrorist attack at a large public event in Manchester, England, security is being stepped up in cities, major transportation hubs, and at large events. These measures are expected after attacks, and may not always be in direct response to a specific threat. They are designed to reassure the public and to deter any possibility of a copycat attack.
Drawing on experience from supporting large events at public venues – such as the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia – Global Rescue Security Operations personnel recommend the following before heading to the venue:
Do your homework. Take a few moments to browse the event venue’s website. Look specifically for the rules and guidance section, what’s allowed and, more importantly, not allowed inside the venue; there likely will be a list of prohibited items. Find a schematic of the venue and either print and/or save a copy to your device; ensure your friends or family do the same. All group members should be familiar with where the parking lot or bus loading zone is in relation to where their seats are. Since cell phone service will likely be disrupted immediately following an event, identify two potential points inside the venue and at least one outside the venue where the group could rally in the event of a separation or if a major event should occur. This point should be easily identified from a distance and not impacted by a large crowd; raised signposts or banners usually suffice; lots of light in the area would be a big plus.
Prepare to spend more time getting in and getting out. Expect delays due to security and/or an event disturbance. Added security at major events will delay entry into the venue as enhanced screening measures are introduced. Be prepared for this by adhering to the venue’s prohibited items list. Bring proper clothing-- jacket, raincoat, hat, gloves--not just for the event but more importantly for unexpected situations and wait times in unsheltered areas. Prepare to walk longer distances than anticipated and be able to walk quickly or run. Wear comfortable shoes, not flip-flops. You’ll likely be walking a good distance and waiting in line for potentially lengthy periods. Also, should an incident take place that requires the evacuation of the venue, it may not be possible to take the most direct route back to your transportation. An extra candy bar and bottle of water are always a plus and can be discarded at security checkpoints without excessive loss.
Stay together inside the venue. Keep group members in relative proximity to each other and, when leaving the seats during the event, do so in at least a pair. Tell others in the group that you’re leaving and be specific: “Jane and I are going to get another pretzel from the vendor outside zone M420, we’ll be back in 10 minutes and have our phones. We’ll let you know if we get delayed.” Enter the venue with a charged phone and consider taking a spare external charger as well.
Understand incident response. Unless you’re in imminent danger, stay where you are and take all instructions from competent authority. Avoid rushing right toward an exit and getting caught up in a large and panicky crowd. This is a critical point for those with small children or anyone needing additional assistance. If forced into a crowd, attempt to stay near a wall and walk purposefully. Use the predetermined rally points to collect your group; having the additional point outside the venue will be helpful in a forced evacuation if authorities do not permit waiting at an inside rally point.
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