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Cracking Down on Crowd Control Strategies for Large-Scale Events

Lance Guillory
February 13, 2024

There have been numerous cases of mismanaged crowds quickly turning into chaos, causing harmful and sometimes catastrophic accidents. While planning and executing a large-scale event is a thrilling and rewarding experience, it presents its fair share of challenges, particularly in managing a sizable crowd. Let’s get into preparatory steps, tactical strategies, and reactive measures required for crowd management that will help you keep event attendees and employees safe.

Putting the Plan in Motion

Prioritizing security at a large-scale event takes meticulous planning and strategy. Before you can plan out your schedule, lineup, or layout, it is important to understand your anticipated number of attendees and their behavior patterns. Some of this information can be gathered through pre-registration data or past event attendance numbers. Negative behavior patterns you may have seen at past events include: 

  • Being overly aggressive, disruptive, or intoxicated
  • Disregard of others for a better view or access to certain areas
  • Ignoring instructions from event staff

When dealing with a large number of individuals, you run into issues such as overcrowding, physical safety hazards, and increased security threats. We recommend an on-site Physical Security Risk Assessment prior to hosting any event to identify these hazards and determine the level of risk they pose. Once these risks are identified, we can define the measures for managing them. Risk identification involves a thorough analysis of your event location and program, looking for:

  • Structural vulnerabilities in the venue
  • Historical data on crowd behavior at similar events
  • Threats specific to the demographics of the attendee population, such as political affiliations or the notoriety of the event

On top of planning, streamline communication with your team leading up to the day of the event. Establishing clear communication channels with staff members and security personnel helps you facilitate smooth coordination on schedule changes, emergency protocols, or general announcements. If you are the coordinator, be sure to provide clear and concise directions.

Safety Guidelines: The Foundation of Crowd Management

Safety protocols are the foundation of effective management. Begin with crystal-clear safety guidelines that are comprehensive yet easy to follow. Communicate these rules through multiple channels, including event websites, social media, and on-site signages. The more accessible the guidelines, the more cooperation you'll receive from attendees. The top priorities when crafting guidelines should be:

  • Clear definitions of prohibited items and behaviors
  • Clearly defined designated areas
  • The procedures for reporting suspicious activity
  • Instructions on responding to emergency announcements

Training Staff and Volunteers

Your frontline should be one of your strongest assets in critical times. Invest in training programs for event staff and volunteers to stay aligned with your security guidelines. Regular drills and exercises should also be a part of their training to ensure a quick and coordinated response in emergency scenarios. Key elements to cover include:

  • Recognizing signs of distress in crowds
  • Basic, medical first aid
  • Implementing evacuation procedures
  • Utilizing communication devices
  • De-escalation techniques in the event of conflict

Setting up Emergency Exits and Evacuation Plans

No matter how much training you provide, large events must have a detailed evacuation plan in case of fire, natural disasters, or critical security threats. Exits should be well-lit and free of any obstructions at all times, and it is recommended that you regularly check these exits in that they are in good working condition. 

A direct line of communication with local authorities also allows for a swift response in case of emergencies. Regular meetings and rehearsals with emergency services will help validate your coordination protocols and identify areas for improvement. Further safeguard your plan with:

  • Clearly marked exits
  • Multiple evacuation routes
  • Designated assembly points outside the venue
  • The coordination of exit drills with local emergency services
  • Regularly reviewing and updating the plan 

Crowd-Control Tactics: Navigating the Ebb and Flow

Once the crowd is in motion, managing its flow is a strategic task. Don’t neglect entry and exit point management, controlling traffic within the event, and the importance of visible barriers and directional signage. You can do this by:

  • Managing Large Crowds with Reserved Seating: Reserved seating can be an effective way to manage large crowds. It provides attendees with a designated place to sit, which can help prevent overcrowding and confusion. Reserved seating also allows for easier movement within the venue, as attendees won't need to search for a place to sit.
  • Establishing a Security and Check-in System: A robust security and check-in system should include plenty of staff members to handle check-ins, answer questions, and address any issues that come up. A ticketing system keeps lines organized and fast-moving.

Keep your business safe with an Emergency Action Plan today.

Crowd Control Solutions for Your Next Event

Manage your crowd and witness your event unite people while prioritizing their safety, satisfaction, and to provide them anticipation for the next one. If you're looking to enhance your crowd control solutions, consider a Physical Security Risk Assessment to refine your security measures for large events. 

Get in touch with us today, and let's guarantee a seamless and triumphant experience for your attendees, from beginning to end.

This intel is gleaned from seasoned security professionals and our own extensive experience in securing major events. Fortify your knowledge base with state-of-the-art crowd control tactics.

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