School Safety at Outdoor Events
Indoor Safety Should be Reflected Outside Too
Schools focus a lot of their time on increasing safety and making the inside of their facility as secure as possible by keeping unwanted visitors out and monitoring who accesses the buildings. But many outdoor events take place during a school year including sporting events and games, field days, and car washes for fundraising. It is critical to safety and security that efforts are put in to controlling and managing risk at outdoor events at your school, not just securing the interior during normal school hours.
Creating a secure environment for guests at an outdoor event should be a priority. Provide that security to your guests by hiring or recruiting extra security for large events such as rival sports games. Emotions are often on edge and can create an incident quickly. Additional security means more eyes on guests which can minimize an incident before it happens or before it escalates.
Bag checks are another option for security at an outdoor event at a school. These are fairly common and should not come as a surprise. Add signage that states all bags are subject to searches for security purposes. If security is a large risk for a particular event, consider performing random person checks with metal detectors. Some may see this as an over-reaction, or invasion of privacy, but safety of students and other visitors is the most important aspect at outdoor events on your school grounds.
Emergency planning for any event is important, but for an outdoor event at a school, it becomes of higher importance. Emergency planning should happen with security personnel, maintenance and grounds, and school administrators. Also invite local first responders for their input on how an emergency would be handled in the space your event is taking place. As with any emergency planning, there needs to be multiple exits for guests to use in the event of an incident or emergency. Having one single entrance can be deadly with everyone evacuating while responders are trying to gain access. Secondary exits need to be unlocked and usable during the event, such as fence gates or back roads.
If an emergency or incident does happen, responders need an open and easily navigated way to access your event location. Keep this access clear from other traffic and from loitering. If these staging areas are busy or occupied, responders will add time to their response trying to figure out where to park and where to set up staging areas.
Medical emergencies can happen at any time, and there is little that can be done to prevent things like heart attacks or injuries. To mitigate risk of medical emergencies occurring during an outdoor event at your school, have a first aid station set up and located in a central area. Whether it be a scraped knee, a sprain, or a heart attack, having a first aid station can be beneficial while waiting for emergency medical responders to arrive.
Consider hiring security that is already trained on CPR and first aid to help with those who have minor injuries or illnesses. Since a school nurse will likely stay at the first aid station throughout the event, trained security personnel can be beneficial when mingling through the crowds and can be a first line of aid for those visitors who need medical attention.
Heart attacks can happen at any time, no matter where you are. Having an Automated External Defibrillator can save a life. During outdoor events at your school, have an AED readily available for use, you never know, you may need it for yourself.
Communication during an outdoor event is crucial for continuation of safety. Give security personnel and the first aid station two-way radios to use to communicate with each other about possible incidents or suspicious activity. The first aid station should have a radio in case there is a medical emergency, security personnel can alert them of the problem and the station can expect to receive a patient soon.
If two-way radios are not an option, consider using a system such as Easy Alert that allows for internal communication with other users through a mobile phone or tablet. Incidents and responses can be initiated and time stamps allow for review of procedures after the incident.
Outdoor events on school property require just as much planning and preparing as a normal school day, possibly more because there is no check in process for visitors and the event is less controlled with more space and less visibility. Focusing efforts on things like security, emergency planning, medical emergencies, and effective communication can make the event run smoother and give those working the event more preparedness in the event of an incident.