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Music Festival Evacuation Planning.

Andy Robertson

A large music festival can cater for hundreds of thousands of festival-goers making the need for robust evacuation planning essential. It is the responsibility of festival organisers to plan and operate events that are safe for all visitors at all times. What can festival organisers do to ensure the safety of everyone should a site evacuation be required.


There have been too many incidents at events that caused loss of life over the years with the inability to safely evacuate large numbers of people quickly being the cause. Dealing with natural disasters, fires or even terrorist attacks can be challenging and festival organisers should ensure that in such circumstances large numbers of people can be evacuated safely.

Planning and Assessment. 
A thorough assessment of the chosen site or venue indicating all access points is required along with the anticipated number of people. A professional analysis of crowd control modelling should be able to identify how many people can be evacuated through each exist and the length of time this will take. All assessments and plans need to be coordinated between on-site security staff, volunteers, local police and the fire service to reach an agreement on how any evacuation plan should be implemented.

Establish Effective Communication Channels. 
Even the best planned evacuations can go horribly wrong if there is any breakdown in communication between responsible people. Prior agreement between all parties on use of walkie talkies or mobile phones along with back up channels is required. These channels need to be tested to ensure they work as intended. On a remote festival site signals may be poor so they need to be tested over the entire site location. Aside from responsible individuals having effective communication devices there should be a reliable way of communicating clearly to festival-goers what they need to do. Using a public address system, Tanoy or hand-held megaphone can help direct people to the correct exist along with reassurances to prevent panic.

Assign Roles and Responsibilities.
There should be an individual assigned with overall responsibility for site safety who can make decisions quickly to determine if the site needs to be evacuated. Protocols are required to ensue rapid response with key decisions being agreed between the police, fire service and festival staff. Any notifications about potential problems from festival-goers or volunteers need to be investigated quickly and assessed by key decision makers to avoid any delays.

Expert Consultation. 
Festival organisers should use professional crowd control experts who specialise in computer modelling behaviour. These use the site layout and estimated visitor numbers to make accurate predictions and calculations. This modelling can help determine if any changes need to be made to physical layouts or to evacuation plans.

Even the best evacuation plans can be affected by simple oversights with poor communication between site staff and festival-goers being one of the primary failures. A key dilemma for many music festival organisers is often finding the balance between controlled evacuation and informing visitors. Turning off amplified music and making announcements about evacuation ensures everyone is aware but may lead to large scale panic.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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