If it’s your job to organise a public event it’s important to make sure that the crowds of people coming in and out are properly controlled and that their safety is assured. Your team needs to be fully briefed on what’s expected from them and, although you may appoint professional contractors to assist, remember, the buck stops with you.
Crowd hazards can take many forms, including:
- People being crushed against fixed structures like walls and fences
- People being crushed by other people
- People not following marked routes in and out of the venue
- People surging and swaying
- People being trampled underfoot
- People behaving impatiently and aggressively
- People climbing on equipment, throwing things, and generally behaving dangerously
Venue hazards to be taken into account include:
- The collapse onto the crowd of a structure like a fence or a piece of equipment
- Vehicles moving along the same route as the crowd
- Hot cooking equipment that’s not roped off or protected by crowd barriers
- Queues of people at bars, food stalls and so on
- Objects, such as stalls that obstruct and cause crowd congestion
- Sources of fire, such as gas cooking equipment
- Failure of equipment, such as turnstiles or lighting
- Electrical connections and other dangerous equipment not roped off or protected by crowd barriers
As head of the organising committee, you should spend some time on a crowd movement and behaviour assessment. This should be in two parts – one, the entry of people and two, their safe exit. When crowds are controlled properly everyone can enjoy themselves and be safe.
Here are five crowd control and management methods that will help you make your event run smoothly and safely:
Frequent visitors to a venue will know how to find their way around but newcomers won’t. Don’t leave anything to chance; display clear signs that tell people where to go. Some signs can be placed on the top of poles or stanchions and will help direct people to the route or pathway you’d like them to take.
If your event is a very large one, you may want to consider using digital signs – these allow you to make quick changes to details like bus or train times. Also, don’t forget to clearly signpost areas in the venue like the toilets, seating areas, waiting lounges, eating spaces and so on.
2. Queue Management
Queues and lines of people are inevitable and can cause tension and irritation amongst a large group of excited and impatient people, so have a few stewards patrolling the area to keep the crowd under control and address any issues that may arise.
Where people are queueing to enter or leave the event, and are moving slowly, it’s useful to have crowd barriers along both sides. This is an effective way to keep everyone in line, moving safely forward.
3. Rapid Deployment
Many unexpected incidents happen at an event, so it’s a good idea to have a rapid deployment team standing by. Four or five staff will do. Here’s an example:
Incident: A spillage in the food section. How do you keep people away from that area?
Rapid deployment response: A crowd barrier is a perfect lightweight solution that can be positioned in minutes.
A rapid crowd control crew can quickly assess a situation – why something is not operating properly – and take appropriate action. It may be rowdy people waiting in line, or an injured person, or a broken piece of equipment, whatever. But if you have people ready and able to respond, you can safely control the situation.
4. Customer Flow Management
In order to keep crowds under your control, it’s essential to have solutions in place so people continue to move in the direction you require, whether they’re entering or exiting, or just making their way around.
Crowd barriers, together with appropriate signage can keep people in order. And when you can keep them well informed and moving in the direction they (and you) wish to go, you’ll have a well-controlled event that can cope with minor and most major crowd control problems.