The Linchpin of Effective Crowd Control: Well-Trained Event Staff

June 05, 2014Perry Kuklin

As an organizer of any event, crowd management is a top concern. Examining how attendees will flow into, around, and finally back out of the venue is step one. Deciding on the most effective mix of stanchions, barriers, signage and other security products to manage the flow of crowds is the next. But even the strongest barriers can’t make up for having a well-trained event staff, able to properly deploy equipment and utilize the crowd management solutions you have selected. Here are a few things to consider when hiring and training staff members for your event.

You Need “Friends” and “Enforcers”

Let’s use the example of a retail special event. These types of events attract a larger-than-average number of customers that create a crowd. When managed correctly, the crowd will form numerous queues throughout the premises. These waiting lines are vital to move customers efficiently and fairly throughout the event. To manage these queues, you will need a number of employees that will fall into two different categories: friends and enforcers. Friends are the people you employ to walk the waiting lines, talking to customers to keep them both entertained and informed about what is happening during the event. Your customers should recognize these people as friendly faces that provide estimated wait times and answer questions to ease any tensions created from the crowd or waiting period.  Enforcers are the staff members you hire to keep a careful watch on the waiting lines using real-time monitoring techniques. They must be able to take immediate action as situations in line change, keeping the queue organized and free from chaos. By monitoring such statistics as queue lengths and the number of people walking into the store, enforcers will know when to extend waiting lines with additional stanchions and belts or when to direct specific customers to specialty service stations. These same employees should also be able to handle customers who present unacceptable behavior such as line-cutting and have the authority and capability to subdue or remove these disruptive individuals. All events have a system of “friends and enforcers,” they just take on slightly different roles depending on the type and scale of the event. Some events will need to weigh more heavily on enforcers than friends, for example, controlling a concert, and vice versa.

Familiarize Yourself with Training Programs and Certifications

There are numerous training programs and certifications available for any type of event, be it a sporting event, concert, exhibit, etc. These programs are available for all employees from ticket takers and concession staff to gate security and parking attendants. The goal is to train each staff member to promote attendee and staff safety no matter the size of the event. By understanding what types of programs are available for your specific event, you can look for these qualifications during your hiring process as well as require current employees to get certified when appropriate.

Prepare for an Emergency

None of us want to think about an emergency actually happening, but you must be prepared especially when dealing with public crowds. So, add an emergency plan to your crowd management strategy and make sure all employees are aware of the right procedures should something happen. Also consider requiring CPR and First Aid training to create an entire team of able bodies that can act appropriately during an emergency.

Reinforce Your Plans

There are several ways to reinforce your crowd control and emergency plans with your staff members, but perhaps the best way is in writing. Make reference copies available to all employees that detail all necessary behavior and crowd control techniques needed from your staff members to run a safe and successful event. Remember your crowd control management systems rely heavily on deploying the proper equipment as well as employing well-trained, reliable staff members. Give both categories careful consideration during your planning process.

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