• How to Manage Multiple Security Teams at Your Event

    FROM THE Fall 2019 ISSUE

    Tips From a Pro: Safety First

While you might feel safer having multiple security teams at the same event, you may not realize that unless handled properly, this can set up a scenario of confusion and chaos should an emergency occur. When it’s your event, it is up to you to establish a firm chain of command, so if a situation does happen, everyone has a clear understanding of who is in charge and what their respective responsibilities are.

Depending on the scope of your event, you could potentially have many separate security teams for your venue, speakers, C-suite/celebrity guests, clients and entertainment, all concentrating on their respective responsibilities and not as much on the overall event. There are, however, a few things that you can do to head off any duplication of efforts and ensure that everyone works as a team before and during your event.

This first step is to analyze the different security teams that will be present, examine their roles and identify where they will be physically stationed throughout the event. You will also need to confirm the hours they will be on-site, their method of communicating with you (and each other) during the event, and whether they will be carrying any weapons and other security related items. Once you have all this information documented, look at where responsibilities might overlap. The idea is not to have them change their defined roles, but instead to create a cohesive security team by allocating a main contact to oversee all teams (this might be you) and ensure everyone understands that other security teams will be present and that they will be all be working near each other, and ideally working together.

The next step is to first hold a briefing meeting by phone with all team leads prior to going on-site and then finally meeting with all security teams on-site before your event begins. Make formal introductions and clarify the lines of communication in the event of emergency. You may also wish to dedicate one of your event team radio channels to security. Acknowledge that while you respect that each team has its own role on-site, in the event of a true emergency you must have a designated person to lead everyone. Make sure this lead has the best working knowledge of the property, emergency exits, etc. and ensure they understand the chain of command for notifying you of any emergency so you can keep your clients, your team, and your guests updated as necessary. You should also review each team’s standard security procedures and make sure they are appropriate for your event and venue.

Upon arrival on-site, you and all security personnel should take a full tour and make note of all entrances, exits, evacuation routes, restrooms and other areas where guests might venture. This provides everyone with a working knowledge of the space should something happen. At most venues there will likely be formal emergency procedures in place that you will be required to follow. Make sure you have received information outlining these procedures and understand them.

Be sure you brief your entire event team so they all understand emergency procedures and the processes in place for handling and communicating an emergency. Provide them with essential numbers and information that must always be carried with them (the info provided can be via an app, a group message, or printed on a card to keep in their pocket as just a few examples). Instruct your team to program essential security numbers and key contacts into their phones in advance of an event for easy access whenever needed. Make sure your team members are alert and aware and prepared to follow “see something, say something” protocol if they notice anything suspicious or unusual.

If your event is serving alcohol, you should all agree on how an unruly guest will be handled to prevent confusion during the actual event. Many venues require that an EMT be present, so it is vital that everyone be provided with their contact information in case a quick response is needed. You should also know in advance the location of the nearest police station and area hospitals and provide your security teams with their phone numbers as well.

Though you might meet some initial resistance when asking all security teams to be on the same page, everyone’s safety depends on it.


As managing partner of The Charles Group, Inc. Susan Dunkelman creatively conceptualizes meetings and events and plans and executes them to perfection, delivering memorable events both within the US and globally. Prior to forming The Charles Group, Inc. in 1987, Susan served as Director of Conferences for the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS). 

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