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Safety at festivals

By | 28. August 2018|Aktuell, Expertise, News|

The summer season is the busiest time for security enterprises. The general manager of “R.A.D Security”, Robert Ahrlé, gave an interview to the SECmarket Business Portal about major events and their challenges regarding security and safety.

It is peak season for festivals and open air events. While the visitors of such events are probably looking forward and getting excited since the beginning of the year, security firms are planning behind the scenes for the same time. It is not always easy to provide security and safety at festivals, especially because of one big problem: shortage of staff.

There are usually recurring events on the agenda and there is a trend to more – more festivals, more visitors, more work. The visitors rarely realize what is behind the planning of the safety of festivals and sport events.

According to German venue regulations (VStättV), the organizer of events with more than 5.000 attendees has to draw up a safety concept and name an organizational person in charge. For many event organizers, that size of visitors is a rather small event. The peak season for bigger festivals therefore means to operate at full stretch for security workers.

More events – not enough staff

Robert Ahrlé, co-founder of RAD Security, gives a little more detail from the point of view of security enterprises: „Since many years the annual workload in the summertime filles around 80% a year. Reason for that are recurring annual events as well as customers returning for our services since our company was established 25 years ago.”

Since then, the R.A.D supervises the security and safety of many regional and national major events, such as the Red Bull flight day, the Summer Jam reggae festival, Parookaville and sport events at the old and new formula one speedways in France and at the Hockenheimring. One of the upcoming yearly summer events if the gamescom

The trend is going upwards. More and more different kind of events come to life, especially in the field of electronic music, e.g. the “New Horizons” at the Nürburgring. Ahrlé affirms that there is a need for more personnel, but not only in the summer season: “There is a high demand for qualified workers throughout the whole year. Particularly well-educated and experienced leaders for executive functions are in great demand in the event sector.”

Even though his company is investing a lot in recruiting: advertisements in subject literature, at different job markets and social media. The actual human resource planning starts when the customer hands over the operation plan and time schedule. That can happen half a year before the event, but sometimes they only have six weeks.

But there is more to planning …

The staff also needs equipment. This process needs to be aligned and planned with the venue and the production management. This makes it even more important to have experienced managerial staff that knows how to plan and react in different situations. There is a lot to bear in mind!

The equipment of security staff depends on the goal of their assignment. Additional factors are:

  • weather conditions
  • duration of the assignment
  • nature of the assignment
  • demographics of the audience
  • surroundings at the venue

“Arming and equipment that regulated by weapons law are illegal at public events and do not go along with our corporate identity”, says R.A.D’s manager Ahrlé. “The personal safety equipment of our staff starts with customized footwear, which is standardized and marked for worker protection.”

Additional equipment included hand lamps, radios, a bullhorn and probes to detect hidden metal objects. Furthermore, sun protection with SPF 50 is provided. Every accessory is essential.

Safety on festivals depends on different application areas

Many different security tasks take affect at an event. Staff for property protection is needed before and after the event to prevent theft and vandalism. During the event, identity checks and luggage inspection of visitors and their cars is mandatory. Further, the stars and acts of the event need personal protection. Also, a lot of times event organizers ask for help in money processing including transportation to a bank.

But the most important thing is the safety of the attendees. “That is the main reason why most Venue security workers need to be a trained first responder as well as have knowledge in preventing and fighting a fire”, adds Ahrlé.

Additionally, safety workers get training in driving safety and de-escalation on a regular basis. The security firm also produces study videos for self-preparation for the general knowledge test regarding §34a GewO.

Communication with the audience

Another essential part are the required actions to inform the audience before and during the event about the safety instructions and precautions.

Many organizers provide most of the information on their website or on social media, e.g. the permitted size of luggage, prohibited items at the location or directions to and from the event. All these pre-information help the visitors to prepare for the event and simplify the work and communication of the security team at place.

Pictograms of prohibited items are put up at the location, in particular at the entrance, and are communicated over the speakers. So called “spotter-teams” check on waiting visitors in front of the entrance and look out for oversized luggage or inappropriate or dangerous conditions of visitors (e.g. intoxication).

The feeling of safety is changing

Not only the public but also the individual feeling of safety has changed due to recent events worldwide. Robert Ahrlé agrees: “Young people have an awareness for risks at an event and therefore give positive feedback to security related actions. For example, we notice more often that visitors at events accept body and luggage inspections more positively and that they catch up with the safety regulations prior to the event.”

In his own company, Ahrlé experienced only own time the cancellation of an event when a music festival had to be evacuated due to severe weather conditions including gusting wind. The evacuation took place quickly and no one was hurt.

Another adverse scenario from a security firm’s view is the unexpected absence of staff which can topple the whole security process. Therefore, meticulous and detailed planning and preparation is essential, as well as a backup plan.

Are winter events safer than summer events?

Since risk factors and safety hazards not necessarily correlate with the size of the event, winter events are not safer than summer events. The general manager of  RAD Security explains there are countless factors that could influence an event. “That includes the topic of the event, the location, the surroundings, the target audience and a lot more. The weather conditions and the size of the event are just two of many aspects.”

Therefore, there is no summer break in the security sector during the peak season for festivals. Summer season is just as busy as winter season for security firms.

Even though the size of an event does not influence its safety, but it definitely shows the strong demand for qualified staff – especially at the management level.

Further information on SECmarket.

 

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