As one of the facilitators of a joint Department of Homeland Security and International Festivals and Events Association workshop on risk management at IFEA Convention in October, Bill O’Toole believes Australia would benefit from similar training opportunities.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is, let us say, a large organisation. Set up after the September 11 attacks in 2001, its discretionary budget is over US$40 billion per year.
During the International Festivals & Events Association Convention in San Diego in October, the IFEA and DHS worked together to offer a workshop on the latest in security and major safety issues for festivals around the USA.
Held over four hours, the workshop involved round tables with a mix of event types at each table, along with a facilitator. To ensure success, facilitators and the DHS met online a number of times over the months leading up to the workshop.
I had representatives of large festivals at my table. In a series of table top exercises (TTX in DHS speak), three scenarios were presented and we discussed a number of issues such as preparedness and response.
The first two scenarios involved hostile acts such as a vehicle driving into a line of people queuing outside an event and a shooting at an event nearby. The scenarios were given out in a ‘situation manual’ (yes, called the SitMan) – in the lead up meeting we had all contributed to the SitMan to ensure it was relevant to festivals and events.
Understandably DHS did not want misinformation and misunderstandings to come out of the workshop, so I don’t want to describe the discussion on the first two scenarios. It is a very sensitive area and loose lips sink ships, as it were.
However the last scenario concerned wild weather and the festivals at my table were certainly prepared. DHS wanted all the data from the tables, so I made flowcharts for the discussions at my table. Below is a sample from one of the larger events: it demonstrates that the lightning/wind risk is high for this festival and the cost of hiring an onsite meteorologist equates to the cost of the risk. Even though other events did not see the weather risks as that important, this chart illustrates that every risk when properly thought out can be quantified if there is historical data available from previous events.
In Australia we need these table top exercises covering the risks such as those found in the AIDR Handbook Safe and Healthy Crowded Places and Australia’s Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism.
In particular, local events, community events and Councils need to know what to do on-the-ground on event day. They also need to know how to conduct these types of workshops.
To this end, I have begun planning a training session on crowd management, event security, situational awareness with table top exercises for early next year.
For those who are interested, the DHS website has plenty of free resources and online courses.