Risk-based Approach to Festivals and Fairs – Part 3

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By Travis Strawbridge, Ty L. Richmond
Originally appeared in November/December 2022 Security Today Magazine

Event Security Staff: Most Valuable Assets

Employees are the most valuable assets of any event security company. It is vitally important for an event security firm to adhere to strict guidelines for hiring and training. In addition, the event security’s management team should be coaches and mentors to all front-line employees.

Experienced, trained security professionals, who are licensed, and who have undergone background checks and drug testing, are the foundation of event security.

Event security is a dynamic sector that demands that the security professionals engage in extensive training, which includes how to deliver First Aid and CPR, understanding the signs and symptom of heat stress, how to handle attendee slips, trips and falls. This also includes workplace fire safety, workplace violence and active shooter, emergency response and disaster planning, hazardous materials and best practices for arenas, stadiums and amphitheaters.

In addition, there is venue specific training including crowd management that includes technical and guest services skills, line control, front of stage, back of house, ushers, roamers and overall venue security and safety.

Event security professionals should have an open line of communication to their supervisors. A 10 to 1 ratio of security professionals to supervisor is recommended to ensure that there is continual communication and that exceed expectations.

Without active participation by all members of an organization, a safety program will not reach its full potential. Employees feel valued when their ideas and suggestions are taken seriously, and will better support safety policies, processes and programs when they are involved in forming them. It is important that everyone be empowered to have input when it comes to safety.

Event Security High-tech Screening

Event security professionals work with their clients to design and implement screening solutions that best fit their environment, requirements and existing security operations. Today’s security professional is a highly trained individual with access to cutting edge technology including artificial intelligence which consists of state-of-the-art technology that connects artificial intelligence and human response to better protect people with accurate real-time data.

“Event security is fluid and ever changing with crowd movement and dynamics,” said Thushan Rajapaksa who started working in event security at the age of 18 as a ticket taker and today serves as a senior executive leader in event security. Rajapaksa held every position from guest services, security guard, cashier, box office, parking, access control, bike patrol, ID checking, red carpet staff, usher, talent escort, supervisor, recruiter, scheduler, event manager, account manager, director, executive director, general manager, vice president to senior vice president.

“In my 25-plus years, I have never worked a concert that has the same crowd management plan,” Rajapaksa said. “During these turbulent times, ensuring the safety and security of event participants at NAMM or other high-profile events demands the use of cutting-edge technology paired with the best security professionals in the business.

“My event security team plays a multi-faceted role that includes alcohol enforcement, audience management, bike patrol, crowd control, ID checkers, 24-hour event security, access control, parking services, red carpet staff, ticket takers, ushers and VIP/talent escort. We assist from pre-planning stages through post-show wrap-up; working with the client from start to finish.”

Ever-evolving Technology

As standard practice, security supervisors implement a plan that includes a network of people, processes and technology to deter and mitigate threats. Law enforcement is a partner with physical security and may ask to access video footage. Today’s access control includes biometrics and video analytics, and with facial recognition. Video analytics is also able to measure and gauge crowd behavior, social distancing, detect suspicious packages, and instantly alert security and law enforcement so that preemptive action can be deployed. Social media platforms are monitored using specific keyword analytics to assess if there are any potential issues that are happening.

Security professionals together with local, state and federal law enforcement are able to work together to leverage multiple technologies and share information to mitigate potential threats. Ultimately, it is important to determine the policies and procedures that are in place that allow security personnel, law enforcement and other entities to work effectively as a blended team.

Click here to view Part 1 of our Risk-based Approach to Festivals and Fairs.