Top Tips to Keep You Safe at Your Next Event. You Bought the Ticket—Now What?

Recently tragedies in a variety of venues like the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Pulse Night Club in Orlando, and the Manchester Arena/Ariana Grande concert in England have shown us that awareness requires a 24/7 commitment to help us stay safe—because planning for a potential disaster is now as necessary as buying a ticket. Whether you are going to an event at a downtown park, outdoor summer concert, stadium venue, indoor arena, or smaller club, you must now add “what if” to your to-do list. We’re sharing information and strategies to increase awareness if you’re planning to attend or drop others off at an event.

Plan Before the Event

If you plan to attend a major event such as a rock concert or professional sports at a large-scale venue, you need to be prepared for many types of incidents, whether intentional, accidental, or natural. One of the most important things you can do is to familiarize yourself with the building and property and have a solid plan of action in the unlikelihood that an incident occurs. Because power outages, medical events, and acts of terrorism can happen, you need to be prepared if you’re present when they do.

Your commitment to safety begins before you set foot on the property or in the venue. From checking online for a seating diagram to familiarize yourself with entrances and exit locations, handicapped access, medical help, bathrooms, security, access to public transportation, and parking areas to monitoring social media for any negative or derogatory stories about the event, artist, or team, you can educate yourself about your surroundings—which will help you in the event of an emergency.

What to Do if an Incident Occurs

This place is probably new to you so look around and be committed to “See Something, Say Something” if you observe something happening that doesn’t seem quite right. And while you’re looking around, take note of exits and stairwells in case elevators or escalators aren’t working. A fully charged cell phone with a flashlight will help you if the power goes out and you can use a scarf or bandana to cover your nose and mouth in case the venue becomes filled with smoke or the air is otherwise compromised as well as a sling, bandage, or head cover.

If an incident occurs while you are at the event, you must remain calm so that you can listen for and follow any instructions that might be communicated over the PA system or by security personnel. Your pre-planning will help you navigate your surroundings now in order to direct your group to a safe area and away from the incident or a large crowd to avoid a possible stampede.

After you are safe, assess yourself and your party for any injuries because adrenaline driven activity can mask injuries. You should not attempt to re-enter the venue unless law enforcement directs you to move inside. Also, you should share with the authorities any pertinent information, video, or photos that might help in the subsequent investigation.

There Is No Substitute for Experience 

Our proprietary methodology for planning, constructing, and implementing event security has been designed, developed, and continues to evolve from my personal experiences in security leadership roles for the federal government with the United States Secret Service Major Events Division, where I helped secure the Super Bowl, Olympics, National Conventions, and the Presidential Inauguration. Additionally, my team’s project management background in professional sports with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) provides large-scale event security expertise.

Michael Verden, Owner and CEO of The Lake Forest Group (www.lakeforestgroup.com), is a former police officer, Director of Security for the NBA, and retired Secret Service agent with 21 years of experience protecting the President and First Lady as well as large scale events like the NATO Summit and the United Nations General Assembly. As a strategic security consulting firm, The Lake Forest Group offers you expertise in event security, stadium security, residential security, risk management, emergency preparedness, expert witness litigation, active shooter plans, executive protection, training, and medical marijuana security.

We can design an event security plan that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your most valuable assets—people. Contact me, Mike Verden, Owner and CEO of The Lake Forest Group, at gmv@lakeforestgroup.com or 312.515.8747 to find out more—or share this article with anyone who needs to create a event security plan to safeguard their employees, customers, and brand.


Stadium Security Plan: Are We Safe?   

Those tasked with stadium security face challenges from a number of threats—an airborne concern from a hijacked aircraft or a drone packed with explosives or hazardous material; a ground attack carried out by a vehicle transporting a bomb or driven into a crowd of people, similar to what occurred in Charlottesville; and suicide bombers such as the stadium attack in Paris during an international soccer match with France’s president in attendance. The possibility of any of these challenges creates a complex and ubiquitous danger for stadiums and the need for a holistic stadium security plan.

Doing More with Less

What really brings success to a stadium security plan is how well the stadium operators adapt industry best practices in stadium security to your particular situation—ensuring that the security services will perform before, during, and after an incident to avoid a devastating impact on your operations. Our recommended approach to optimizing stadium security starts with a security plan that leverages the most efficient and cost-effective measures for event security, emergency management, continuity of operations, and security operations. Working together, we’ll create, enhance, and update a stadium security plan that achieves the highest level of execution and results in peak performance operations no matter what challenges your venue faces.

There’s No Substitute for Experience       

Our proprietary methodology for planning, constructing, and implementing stadium security has been designed, developed, and continues to evolve from my personal experiences in security leadership roles for the federal government with the United States Secret Service Major Events Division, where I helped secure the Olympics, National Conventions, and the Presidential Inauguration. Additionally, our team’s project management background in professional sports with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) provides large-scale event security expertise.

Haves and Have Nots

A stadium security plan begins with an on-site assessment of the venue to evaluate the resources you have and those you don’t have, including: (1) personnel security (security officers, police officers, fire fighters, guest services, paramedics, and emergency managers); (2) security technologies (intrusion detection, card readers, video surveillance, duress devices, notification systems, and communications capabilities); (3) physical security (barriers, barricades, bollards, lighting, gates, and fences); (4) emergency preparedness (emergency evacuation, lockdown, shelter-in-place, triage, and decontamination); and (5) liaison with law enforcement, fire department, and emergency medical.

When the Rubber Meets the Road

Understanding your own resources as well as those of external support services, such as the first responder community, enables stadium leadership to construct an effective stadium security plan. The plan needs to account for access control, security, safety, and enforcement of the policies and procedures that discourage unlawful activity both in the stadium and on the exterior grounds. As one of the main requirements, your security plan must clearly demonstrate succinct and measurable processes to safeguard all assets, including the people, property, and brand. It is equally important to incorporate crisis management into the stadium security plan so that specific guidelines address all hazards, such as weather, accident, or crime. In addition, when you coordinate with the public sector in contingency operations, emergency management, and incident response, among other areas, you ensure that the event participants, as well as the attendees, are not exposed to risk.

Nothing Fits Better Than a Tailor Made Plan

Because I have designed and managed security for major events in both the public and private sectors, I benchmark stadium security against comparable venues as well as industry standards and apply my knowledge of best practice-based stadium security disciplines to each client’s environment. For a complete picture of your stadium security profile, you can schedule a professional assessment that will evaluate the technical, physical, personnel, and procedural security measures currently in place at your venue.

You’ll find out what you’re doing well and where you’re exposed to unnecessary risk as well as receive recommendations and strategic considerations with next steps to protect critical components of your processes—especially where vulnerabilities currently exist. Also, you’ll identify what, if any, security and safety measures or systems are needed now or should be introduced at a later date.