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Emergency Planning
Emergency Planning


(Revised November 17, 2017)

Emergency Planning can be the difference between a disruption and a disaster. The main consideration of emergency planning is the protection of people, property and the environment from harm during an emergency situation. This is achieved by developing an emergency plan that implements a system able to respond to an emergency in a way that leads to the most effective outcome possible under the circumstances. The plan’s coverage should therefore be comprehensive, while keeping the structure as concise, simple and flexible as possible. It should also be dynamic and interactive, ensuring ongoing relevance to the needs of the entertainment venue and all stakeholders by continual monitoring, review and consultation.

Sometimes there may be venue procedures already in place but these still need to be checked for suitability for the event and procedures must be in place to make sure management and workers understand the plans and know how to activate them or respond to an activation. For large events it may be required to involve the Emergency Services in all stages of the planning process.

4.1 Referenced documents:

AS3745-2010 – Planning for Emergencies in facilities.

WHS Regulation 2011 – Clause 43

Safe and Healthy Mass Gatherings, Australia Disaster Resilience Handbook

SWA – Emergency Plans fact sheet

4.2 Definitions

4.2.1 Definition of emergency

An emergency is an abnormal and dangerous situation needing prompt action to control, correct and return to a safe condition.

4.2.2 Types of emergency

Potential emergencies in the entertainment industry include fire, explosion, structural damage, power or equipment failure, weather conditions, crowd panic or overcrowding, food poisoning, medical emergencies, civil unrest and terrorism.

‘Emergency’ versus ‘Disaster’
Each specialist field describes hazardous events in different ways, and there is also variation between the States and Territories. Thus, the hazardous events are variously labelled as ‘accidents’, ‘incidents’, ’emergencies’, and ‘disasters’; depending upon the scale of the event, the number of agencies involved, and the ability of the agencies to cope within their normal resources.
A general movement away from the terms ‘counter-disaster’ and ‘disaster’ towards the term ’emergency’ has occurred in Australia over the last few years. Thus the term ’emergency’ is generally used in compound terms, such as ’emergency management’, in preference to ‘disaster’. The terms ‘disaster’ and ‘disaster management’ are, however, still used in Australia to describe events of a truly disastrous nature.

4.2.3 Emergency plan

The goal of the emergency plan is to ensure the safety of all occupants of the affected area and minimise damage to assets.

The emergency plan usually describes:
1) emergency procedures, including:

  • an effective response to an emergency
  • evacuation procedures
  • identifying those that hold authority i.e. Security, First Aid officers, Wardens, etc.
  • notification of emergency services at the earliest opportunity
  • medical treatment and assistance
  • effective communication between the person authorised by the person conducting the business or undertaking to coordinate the emergency response and all persons at the workplace
  • media management

2) testing of the emergency procedures, including frequency
3) information, training and instruction to relevant workers in relation to implementing the emergency procedures.

4.3 The role of emergency planning

The emergency plan should be based on a practical assessment of hazards associated with the event, the work activity or workplace, and the possible consequences of an emergency occurring as a result of those hazards. External hazards should also be considered in preparing an emergency plan, for example weather, civil unrest or terrorism related risks. Emergency planning aims to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of an emergency. Preparedness requires identifying what to prepare for and how to respond. It therefore involves accumulating knowledge and skills, disseminating information about the management of potential emergencies, and providing and allocating resources and people to deal with the emergencies identified.

4.3.1 Relationship with other management systems

Emergency planning is an element of the safety management system and complements systems for environmental management and risk management. Common elements of these systems include the identification of hazards and risks, training and education, and consultation.

4.3.2 Safety management plan

As the title suggests, the SMP of an entertainment venue, whether temporary or permanent, is a comprehensive integrated system for managing safety. Under this system, an entertainment venue defines its safety objectives and the procedures by which these are to be achieved. It also outlines its safety performance standards and the means of achieving these. The emergency plan is an important element in the SMP.

4.3.3 Risk management

Risk management is recognised as integral to effective management. It is an iterative process that involves systematically identifying, analysing, assessing, treating, monitoring and communicating the risks associated with an organisation’s activities or processes. In the case of the entertainment industry, risk management is undertaken in an attempt to prevent incidents and to minimise their impact if they do occur. Its major link with emergency planning is in the treatment of risks. After all other risk reduction strategies have been adopted into the design and operation of the entertainment venue, the emergency plan addresses the residual risk that remains.

4.4 Emergency management system

Emergency management involves a cyclical process of four phases:

prevention: regulatory, physical or operational measures to prevent emergencies or mitigate their impact

preparedness: arrangements to mobilise and deploy all necessary resources and services

response: actions taken during and immediately after an emergency to minimise the impact

recovery: arrangements to restore the entertainment venue to normal as quickly and efficiently as possible and to assist the event to continue if possible.

Emergency planning plays a key role in this cycle of emergency management, focussing primarily on the phases of preparedness and response.

entertainment venue means a building used as a cinema, theatre or concert hall or an indoor sports stadium.
In the context of this chapter it shall also include other public assembly areas such as outdoor concert venue, art gallery, museum, circus tent, fairground, exhibition hall, street festival or parade, etc.

4.5 The Emergency Control Team

The central point of any emergency plan is the Emergency Control team (ECT). In established entertainment venues this will be set-up and the event organiser should make themselves familiar with the structure of the ECT and how to contact them. For temporary entertainment venues this structure will have to be set-up.

It should be clearly understood that the primary duty of wardens is not to combat emergencies but to ensure, as far as practicable, the safety of staff, contractors and members of the public and their orderly evacuation from the venue or site.

The basic structure and responsibilities are as listed below:

Position Function Description Identification
Chief Warden The Chief Warden is responsible for the execution of the emergency plans. The Chief Warden will take command of the situation, direct other staff and wardens as required to manage the situation. The Chief Warden is the first point of contact with the Emergency Services once they arrive on site, if needed.

The Chief Warden will ensure all communications are logged and used in the debrief process

White hat / helmet
Deputy Warden The Deputy will assist the Chief Warden during emergencies. If the Chief Warden is not available or capable to lead the emergency operations, the Deputy Warden will assume all the Chief Warden duties. White hat / helmet
Communications Officer The Communications Officer will use the Emergency Warning System, or any other means to communicate with venue or site occupants. The Communications Officer will also log all communications is relation to the emergency for later review and debrief. Yellow hat / helmet
Area Warden A sufficient number of Area Wardens should be recruited and trained to facilitate the safe and efficient evacuation of the venue or site occupants during an emergency. During an emergency all wardens respond in accordance with the ECT standard operating procedures.

In the absence of emergency wardens, the most senior person present must assume responsibility for ensuring a safe initial response to an incident or emergency situation.

Yellow hat / helmet
FOH Warden Takes charge of all production equipment to enable efficient communication between emergency responders and to inform the general public. Red hat / helmet
Warden The role of the Warden is to assist the Area Warden in their area of responsibility, and if nominated, to assume responsibility of Area Warden in their absence. Red hat / helmet
First Aid officers Nominated first aid officers (NFAOs) are appointed and trained in accordance with first aid procedures. In response to an alarm, or when otherwise notified of an emergency, the NFAOS will report to the chief warden and provide first aid as appropriate. Green hat / helmet (or a White Cross on a Green background decal
Media Manager The Media Manager will be the only point of contact for all media enquiries during and after the emergency. The Media Manager remains in direct contact with the Chief Warden to receive the required information for public release. A Social Media policy and monitoring will be a crucial part of this position.

4.6 Non Emergency roles of the Emergency Control Team

4.6.1 Chief Warden

The responsibilities of the Chief Warden is to:

  • Administer the warden system
  • Review, in conjunction with Area Wardens, the Safety Management Plan
  • Ensure the Chief Warden and the Deputy Warden are not simultaneously absent from the site

4.6.2 Deputy Chief Wardens

The role of the Deputy Chief Wardens is to assist the Chief Warden in the general administration of the Emergency Control Team and will assume all relevant responsibilities whenever the Chief Warden is absent.

4.6.3 Area Wardens

Area Wardens, within their area of responsibility, will ensure that:

  • They are familiar with the layout of the venue / site and the general locations used by patrons, employees and contractors
  • They are familiar with the location of all first aid facilities and other emergency equipment
  • They oversee the safety equipment and signage within their area of responsibility
  • They represent their area at debriefings

Area Wardens will take appropriate action to ensure:

  • Good housekeeping so that litter does not accumulate to increase the danger of fire
  • Hazardous materials are not stored or used incorrectly, notwithstanding the nature of work
  • Equipment does not impede access/egress
  • Pathways are free of obstruction
  • Fire extinguishers, safety signs and safety equipment are accessible at all times
  • Hydrants and hose reels are accessible at all times
  • Access to and egress from emergency exits is not obstructed
  • Any irregularities are reported to the Chief Warden
  • All incidents are reported on the form provided
  • Inspection checklists are completed
  • Incident report forms are to be handed to the deputy or Chief Warden.

4.6.4 Wardens

The role of the Warden is to assist the Area Warden in their area of responsibility, and if nominated, to assume responsibility of Area Warden in their absence.

4.6.5 Media Management

During emergencies there is likelihood that the media will want to obtain an interview or statement. All staff members, contractors and participating organisations and their employees should be aware that all media inquiries are to be directed to the Media Manager, who will arrange for appropriate person to comment. If the Media Manager is not available, the Chief Warden will appoint an appropriate person to act as a Media Liaison Officer at the time of the event. Consideration should be given to the identification of a media briefing area appropriate to the event. Media Management should also have systems in place to monitor any social media activity that may spread incorrect information.

4.6.6 Testing the plan

If the nature of the event makes physical testing of the plan practical, and if it is warranted for a particular activity, the Emergency Control Team may request a full drill.

4.6.7 Identification

The people acting in a position within the organisational structure, or conducting certain emergency functions, will require clear methods of identification. For example, helmet colours (as outlined in AS 3745 – Emergency control organisation and procedures for buildings, structures and workplaces) and distinctive tabards identifying the emergency position or function may be used.

4.6.8 Roles of agencies, groups, industry and the community

The roles, responsibilities, functions and needs of all key stakeholders (e.g. industry, the community, and external agencies such as the Police and Fire services) should be clearly identified. These definitions will be derived through extensive consultation. The plan should identify the phases when consultation is necessary, such as when the plan is being updated.

4.7 Notification of emergency situations

It is important that emergency situations are reported immediately and clearly without panic or interference. Report the situation to ECP or a staff member with a radio immediately using the following procedure:

Standard Emergency Warning Codes (as per AS3745:2002)

Emergency / Threat Code
Fire / Smoke Red
Medical Emergency Blue
Bomb threat Purple
Internal Emergency (general) Yellow
Personal Threat (armed or unarmed including violent incidents) Black
External Emergency Brown
Evacuation Orange

NOTE: Colour codes for emergencies other than those listed above may lead to confusion and should not be used.

4.8 Responsibilities of the Emergency Control Team in the event of an Emergency

4.8.1 Chief Warden

  • Take control of the situation at the appropriate control point, if safe to do so
  • Ensure Emergency Services are notified
  • Ensure all patrons and employees are removed from the hazard area
  • Ensure the venue and their representative are notified
  • Hand over control to the Emergency Services on arrival
  • Assist the Emergency Services as required
  • Ensure the event organiser is notified
  • Maintain a log of the incident

4.8.2 Deputy Chief Wardens

If the Chief Warden is not in the venue or on-site, the nominated Deputy Chief Warden will assume all responsibilities, duties and control. If the Chief and Deputy Chief Wardens are not available, the next ranking member of the Emergency Control Team on duty will assume control as Chief Warden. During an emergency the Deputy Chief Warden will be delegated tasks by the Chief Warden.

The Deputy Chief Warden, or nominated Area Warden, will provide confirmation of patrons and employees marshalling and safety, or otherwise, to the Chief Warden by runner or other appropriate communication means.

4.8.3 Area Wardens

The primary responsibility of the Area Wardens is to ensure, as far as practicable, the safety of patrons and employees and when necessary arrange their orderly evacuation from danger.


When required, Area Wardens will ensure that their areas of responsibility have been totally evacuated, if safe to do so.

4.8.4 FOH (Front of House) Warden

Most events will employ extensive audio, lighting and A/V systems. These systems can interfere with Emergency Warning and Intercommunication Systems. Operators and maintenance staff can also be positioned in difficult to reach places.

The task of the FOH Warden is to take charge over the PA system in case of an emergency. Duties include:

  • Turn off any music or audio sources
  • Bring up the Emergency slides on all video screens around the venue or site
  • Notify all production staff of the emergency, specifically follow-spot operators, dimmers and amplifier staff, any other operators in hard to reach places
  • Increase light levels where practical
  • Shut down any artificial smoke or haze generators
  • Make announcements over the PA system in a calm and re-assuring manner, if requested by the Chief Warden

This position and the level of seniority over any touring staff must be explained during the site induction to avoid unnecessary discussions when time is of the essence.

4.8.5 Communications Officer

The communications officer will act as directed by the Chief Warden. Duties will include:

  • Attending to emergency calls
  • Notifying the appropriate emergency service
  • Notifying the Chief Warden of the emergency
  • Establish and maintain communications between Chief Warden and the Area Wardens
  • Transmit and record instructions and information
  • Maintain Emergency Incident Log
  • Maintain area maps

4.8.6 Wardens & all other Employees

All other employees will act as directed by an Area Warden. Specific employees may be allocated various tasks and should only be carried out if safe to do so.

4.8.7 Communications

2 way radios are the best way to facilitate communications between the stakeholders. An emergency radio channel will be allocated for such use. The use of mobile phones should be discouraged during an emergency as there is a substantial risk of ‘network overload’. Designated members of the Emergency Control Team and Area Wardens will be equipped with two way radios and be briefed on exact radio procedures. Details are outlined below.

4.8.8 Emergency Control Point (ECP)

Where reasonably possible based on the size of the event, a Communication Control Room should be set up to manage and log all radio communications. This CCR will function as Emergency Control Point during any emergencies.

4.8.9 Debriefing arrangements

A debrief will take place as soon as practicable after an emergency. The Chief Warden will convene and chair the meeting with a view to assessing the adequacy of the plan and to recommend any changes. It may also be appropriate to conduct a separate recovery debrief to address recovery issues.

4.9 Collecting information for the emergency plan

Consultation is a key ingredient for an effective emergency plan and should be conducted in all phases of the planning process. All stakeholders affected by the plan (including other PCBU’s, workers, performers and external agencies) should be consulted to ensure that each group knows what to expect of the other.

A coordinated and effective response to any emergency requires an understanding between the different parties involved. Consultation when developing the emergency plan enables the development of this understanding before an incident occurs. It ensures that the roles, responsibilities, functions and needs of all agencies and groups are understood and accurately incorporated into the emergency plan. Once the plan is implemented, consultation during the management of the plan allows all stakeholders to contribute to the testing, monitoring and review, and updating of the plan.

It may not always be realistically possible to consult with all stakeholders in which case the documented procedures must be explained to stakeholders upon arrival on site and before work commences.

The stakeholders and issues identified below are not exhaustive; a specific event may need to consider other groups or issues.

4.9.1 Workers

PCBU’s and their workers must be consulted extensively during the emergency planning process. Not only is this consultation with workers a regulatory requirement, it ensures that their intimate knowledge of the event and its operations is incorporated into the development of the emergency plan and generates a sense of commitment and ownership. Each person within the organisation has a responsibility to ensure that they are capable at all times of fulfilling their role in the event of an emergency.

Ongoing consultation with workers should be actively pursued. For example, they should be involved in preparing and conducting exercises in order to test the capability of the plan. Debriefings following these exercises provide participants with an opportunity to indicate the problems encountered and suggest possible solutions.

4.9.2 External agencies and other groups

Police, Ambulance, Fire and other emergency services, local authorities, and safety, health and environmental agencies (both government and non-government) should be consulted throughout the emergency planning process when the size of the event warrants such consultation.

Operators of large events have an obligation to consult with the emergency service organisations that have responsibility for the area in which the venue or event site is located and address any recommendations made by those authorities. The same applies to consultation with the local authority in relation to the off-site health and safety consequences of a major incident occurring.

The degree of involvement of government and other agencies in an emergency will depend on the level and potential consequences of the emergency. Consultation can help to define the circumstances when external agencies or other groups need to become involved. This consultation should also result in a clear understanding by all parties of the roles and responsibilities of each group in an emergency.

4.9.3 Neighbouring facilities and the community

This primarily applies to venue management or large ‘green field’ events. Consultation with neighbouring facilities and the community should result in a two-way flow of issues and ideas. It is can be beneficial to identify facilities that can accommodate large numbers of people (e.g. commercial or shopping centres, motels and recreational facilities) to provide shelter in an emergency. Neighbouring facilities may also be able to provide resources, including people, for responding to an emergency.

4.10 Preparing the emergency plan

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the question of planning for emergencies. A suitable plan will be entirely driven by the nature of the event, its location and the numbers attending.

Emergency plans do not necessarily have to be lengthy or complex. They should be easy to understand and tailored to the specific entertainment venue where they apply. In preparing an emergency plan, all relevant matters need to be considered including:

  • the nature of the event
  • the nature of the entertainment venue
  • the size and location of the entertainment venue, for example, remoteness, proximity to health and emergency services
  • the number and composition of people, for example, workers, contractors, performers and of course visitors and guests.

4.10.1 Nature of the event

The very first step is outlining exactly what the event is, the demographics of the audience or guests, the lay-out of the entertainment venue or site. This step needs to be workshopped with as many people as possible to make sure all areas are covered. The nature of the event will also influence the control measures to be activated in case of an emergency. For a sit-down dinner the MD can be briefed to address the crowd, for a concert you may need a show-stop procedure.

The nature of the event will also dictate the focus of on-site emergency services and infrastructure. Some events may require a larger First Aid team where others may require dedicated fire marshals.

4.10.2 Nature of the entertainment venue

Refer to Chapter 19 ‘Crowd Management’ to predict the movement of people inside the venue or site, including arrivals and departures. Crowd crushes are a very serious emergency risk that needs to be incorporated in all decisions.

All established entertainment venues will have a set of emergency procedures, developed for the venue. It will be still essential to make sure they suit the nature of the event and the demographic of the expected audience. It is also possible that the event infrastructure requires adjustments to the existing plan which will have to be addressed with the venue ECT (Emergency Control Team).

When using buildings or greenfield sites as temporary entertainment venues a whole plan needs to be developed including a chain of command structure. Depending on the size of the event this may include consultation with the local emergency agencies such as Fire, Ambulance and Police.

4.10.3 Location

This may mostly apply to temporary entertainment venues but again must be considered for all venues. Established venues may be part of a larger site or in close proximity to other entertainment venues, such as Melbourne Olympic Park or the Moore Park Precinct in Sydney. Communication with all surrounding entertainment venues will be essential if there are several events operational at the same time or in close succession and crowds, road closures or other changes to the normal operation may hamper quick responses from emergency services. And understanding the demographics between the events may indicate the necessity to keep groups separated.

Street parades and street festivals must also take into consideration their impact on other facilities within the operational area. Specifically road closures must be discussed with emergency services and public transport services to avoid confusion, in an emergency every second counts.

4.10.4 People attending

Not only the crowd size but also the composition of the crowd is very important for a balanced emergency plan. The demographics of the expected audience should be at the top of the list, a heavy metal concert has different requirements from a corporate conference. Crowd size is crucial when determining assembly areas and allocating resources to manage a full or partial evacuation. Understanding how many suppliers and their staff are on-site at any given time will assist is running an efficient roll-call to make sure all staff are in a safe location.

4.10.5 Background information

Background information about the event and its hazards is required to establish the parameters of the plan.

Different from other facilities is that for the entertainment industry the focus will be on the removal of people from the source of the emergency situation. For established venues this will be easier as all that will have been explained and shown to the local Emergency Services. For temporary sites this will require more planning so to be able to direct the responders to the right area which may not always be clear.

It can be crucial to have demographics for the crowd handy as it will help search & rescue to understand age group, likelihood of alcohol and/or drugs consumption, etc.

Basic information required:

  • the location of the entertainment venue, including its street address and the nearest intersection (if any)
  • a detailed map:
    • showing the layout of the venue / event site
    • showing the use of different areas, ie: stage, dressing room, seating, bars, etc.
    • showing remote areas with the venue such as bio-box, followspot booth, below stage, etc. where people may be trapped due to the emergency.
    • identifying all potentially hazardous areas such as the stage with suspended elements, storage of paint or pyro technics, etc.
    • location of all EWIS (Emergency Warning and Intercommunications System) and WIP (Warden Intercommunication Point) panels.
    • an inventory of all hazardous chemicals on-site, or likely to be on-site, and their location
  • the maximum number of persons, including workers, likely to be present at the venue / event site at the time of the emergency.

4.10.6 Types of emergency

Emergencies are defined according to type on the basis of the materials and activities involved. The type of emergency will determine the potential impact of the incident on people, property and the environment. These issues should be addressed in the process of defining the hazards. Examples of types of emergencies are:

  • fire or explosion
  • spill (of hazardous solids and/or liquids)
  • gas leak (flammable, toxic, asphyxiant, pressurised or refrigerated liquid)
  • structural failure
  • natural event (including flood, earthquake, storms, storm tides, etc.)
  • impact event (road vehicles, railways, aircraft, ships)
  • subversive activities (bomb threat, vandalism, sabotage, etc.)
  • external threats (active shooter, riots, weather)

4.10.7 Levels of emergency

Emergencies can vary in scale. For this reason, it is suggested that different levels of emergency be defined as part of the plan. Each level should have clearly defined indicators and an escalation structure.

Emergency Level Action Example situation
Low, not disrupting event. Address locally, no external action required Minor injury requiring First Aid, spillage requiring extensive clean-up.
Medium, not disrupting event Address locally, external action may be required. Injury backstage or FoH requiring ambulance. Small fire not triggering smoke detectors. Extensive spillage or liquid leak.
High, stop event temporarily Apply ‘Show Stop’, explain situation, commence show as soon as reasonable. Seated audience member requiring ambulance transportation, structural collapse backstage requiring temporary repairs, incident on stage injuring cast member.
Extreme, stop event and lock down Apply ‘Show Stop’, explain lock down, provide regular updates and evacuate when safe to do so Extreme weather event, external riots, external or internal active shooter.
Evacuate, stop event and evacuate areas affected. Activate the evacuation plan, including notification of emergency services Fire, hazardous liquid or gas leak, pending weather conditions (outdoor venue)


4.11 Defining the emergency management system

The next stage is to define an emergency management system that is flexible, simple to implement and general in application. It should be tailored to meet the needs of the event and the venue within constraints, such as the resources available. The phases involved are design, construction and commissioning.

4.11.1 Emergency procedures

Emergency procedures are a series of steps that need to be followed when responding to an emergency. When defining these procedures, it is important to recognise the limitations of people in performing tasks, particularly while under extreme stress.

Emergency procedures are generally of two types: those that relate to the system of management (i.e. general procedures to be adopted regardless of the nature, type and scale of emergency) or those specific to the types of incidents identified. These may include:

  • procedures for the safe evacuation of, and accounting for, all people on site
  • procedures and control points for utilities, including gas, water and electricity
  • procedures for dealing with threads, both internal and external.

Other areas relating to the system that might be addressed by emergency procedures include:

  • raising the alarm
  • activating the emergency plan
  • notifying the emergency services
  • terminating the emergency
  • health and safety functions, such as roll call and search and rescue.

Procedures should be developed for all positions within the emergency organisational structure, in particular outlining the roles, responsibilities and duties involved.

4.11.2 Entertainment venue emergency resources

The emergency resources necessary to manage an emergency situation should be identified and provided. Such resources include the venue emergency control centre, the emergency communications system, public warning systems, the emergency alarm system and emergency equipment (such as personal protective clothing and first aid equipment). Availability of external resources should also be considered, such as First Aid staff.

The design and provision of emergency resources should consider such matters as:

  • their safe and accessible location
  • their ability to be moved to areas as required (e.g. First Aid, AED, spill kits, etc.)
  • their suitability for all tasks for which they are provided
  • their readiness for use and ease of use
  • the provision of adequate quantities.

The hazard analysis can help to identify the safety equipment required to respond to an incident and appropriate locations for this equipment to be stored. The functioning capabilities of resources should be considered for all places (e.g. the alarm’s ability to reach the people to be alerted), all times (e.g. at night and out-of-hours) and all circumstances (e.g. adverse weather conditions).

4.11.3 Information, knowledge and skills Provision of information

The system should provide access to user-friendly information to assist in managing the emergency. This information should include:

  • safety, health and environmental information for the event and the venue / site
  • maps and plans of the venue / site and external assembly areas
  • contact details for emergencies including responsibilities
  • information on safety systems and equipment
  • escalation structure.

The system should provide for the communication of information about the plan to stakeholders, including contractors and other on-site visitors. Developing knowledge and skills

The emergency management system must identify and develop the appropriate levels of knowledge and skills to be acquired by event personnel assuming specified responsibilities. Training and education should be provided to enable people to achieve these levels.

In addition, all personnel, whether or not they hold a position in the emergency organisational structure, must be trained in their roles, responsibilities and duties during an emergency (e.g. all personnel should be trained in evacuation procedures). They should be trained to such a level that, when the emergency plan is activated, they can automatically follow their procedures without necessarily referring to the emergency plan and can competently operate the emergency resources. Supporting information provided outside the emergency plan, such as palm cards or signs, may assist them. Training will achieve a greater significance if all personnel have a sense of ownership of the emergency plan.

It is important that key people at the venue / site understand the potential impacts of panic on a crowd and the increased risk of a crush. This understanding will provide the basis for informed decisions to be made in the early stages of an emergency and for advice to be provided to the emergency services.

This understanding can also be used to set priorities in responding to an incident. For example, when considering actions to control or mitigate the impacts of an incident, it may be considered appropriate to allow the incident to proceed with minimal or no direct public response. Such a mode of response may result in a lower overall impact (when considering people, property and the environment) than if, for instance, a full evacuation was initiated.

Knowledge and understanding of crowd dynamics are crucial when developing emergency response for events. Dealing with and managing large groups of people in an emergency will require careful planning and consideration. An unnecessary evacuation may cause more harm and risk of injury than the actual incident.

An example may be a small fire backstage that can be managed without evacuating the audience.

4.11.4 Commissioning the emergency management system

The commissioning of a system is the process of ensuring that the system functions effectively according to the intentions of design and implementation. Effective commissioning of the emergency management system depends on a commitment to providing sufficient time and resources to ensure that the system is workable, simple and flexible, and meets its aims and objectives.

During commissioning, the system should be evaluated to detect problems (such as lack of direction, over­simplifications, poor understanding of the issues, inappropriate assumptions, etc.) that may affect the effectiveness of the emergency plan and to identify methods for improving the efficiency of the plan. A practical exercise, or mock incident, involving external agencies is an effective way of testing all or part of the emergency plan.

Commissioning of the system might include ensuring that:

  • all procedures are validated as safe and personnel are not exposed to an unacceptable risk while undertaking defined tasks and other activities
  • emergency resources and safety equipment are rated for the task
  • emergency resources and safety equipment are clearly identified, accessible, available, serviceable and ready for use
  • communications methods and equipment are satisfactory
  • response times for the venue / site and the emergency services are found to be realistic and within guidelines
  • suitable supporting information is provided and accessible
  • emergency service vehicles have access to the relevant parts of the venue / site
  • the event emergency controller, emergency organisation personnel and emergency responders are suitably identified and appropriately trained
  • the plan satisfies the expectations of stakeholders
  • the plan can be updated easily and the information communicated as appropriate
  • there is a clear understanding of the roles of the different agencies forming the local emergency services, especially fire and rescue authorities.

4.11.5 Monitoring and review

This may only apply to permanent entertainment buildings where the system is in place for an extended period of time. It may not be realistic for temporary entertainment sites.

The venue should establish and maintain policies and procedures to monitor and review the suitability and effectiveness of all phases of the emergency planning process at specified intervals or after circumstances defined by the venue manager. This ensures that the plan remains relevant to the venue and that it is updated to reflect changes in operation and personnel.

Monitoring is critical to managing the plan. Important activities in managing the plan include rehearsals of elements of the plan, emergency exercises and on-going consultation and communication with venue staff, the emergency services and promoters and users of the venue. These activities can help to identify deficiencies in the emergency plan, which can then be remedied.

The emergency plan must be tested in accordance with the recommendations made by the emergency service organisations consulted in preparing the plan. That consultation includes the manner in which the plan will be tested, the frequency of testing and whether or not the emergency service organisation will participate in the testing.

4.12 Emergency procedures

Specific emergency procedures are an important part of the overall emergency management system. They should be clear, simple, practical and achievable. The detail contained in the procedure will depend upon the characteristics of the venue, site and event. The procedures should describe the steps to be undertaken and the responsibilities and duties of people undertaking these procedures.

4.12.1 Event cancellation or interruption

There are a few instances which may force an event to be cancelled or interrupted. This has the potential to create dangerous situations, especially when a crowd has already gathered. Situation that may force such action may be:

  • Extreme weather
  • Flooding
  • External threats such as gas leaks or the like
  • External threats such as terrorist activity or possible terrorist activities
  • Structural instability of the grounds or any structures

Event cancellations, other than in response to an immediate risk, must be considered by the full ECT as it will have many implications. Staffing levels at entry points is an obvious consideration but other areas such as parking attendants, traffic management, public transport, media coverage and information about the decision are equally crucial. Box office must be informed, including ticket sellers such as Ticketek or Ticketmaster so they can prepare responses for refund requests. For outdoor events it will be necessary to talk to the staging company about structures on-site or the power supplier about generators and running time.

More practical considerations are collection and transport of cash, including box-office, merchandise and catering. When looking at power failures there may also be considerations about food storage.

These are all things to be considered early in the process of building an Emergency Response Plan.

4.12.2 Evacuation or lock-down

Where once an evacuation would be called in an emergency as a first response, in recent years there have been many occasions where a lock-down and keeping people inside a venue were the preferred option. Where the initial response may be to get away from any danger, the alternative may actually be bigger than the initial risk. And even a mild panic during an evacuation increases the risks of trips, falls and subsequent trampling of people trying to evacuate. Evacuation plans need to be very carefully constructed, tested and implemented. It is crucial that all staff involved in an evacuation are confident and can hold authority over a situation. The slightest hint of insecurity or nervousness may cause panic in the crowd with dire consequences. Clear and consistent information and directions are the core to a successful evacuation plan.

Once an evacuation is completed, a roll call must be conducted to determine if people are missing. This may be very difficult because of the sheer number of people and the absence of accurate lists. The best option is a ‘buddy check’ where everyone is asked to account for those people they arrived with for the event or people they know were in the venue or on-site. Using the PA system or loudhailers specific people can be asked to identify themselves. People with disabilities

People with physical disabilities may have difficulty moving quickly or using stairs. People who are deaf or who have a partial hearing impairment may have difficulty in hearing emergency alarm signals and announcements. People who are blind or who have a visual impairment may have difficulty in finding and negotiating the emergency exit routes. Nevertheless, some people who do have a disability may not require assistance.

In the event of an emergency that leads to a building evacuation, people with disabilities who require assistance to evacuate should be assembled at a pre-arranged “safe place” and attended to by their escorts or at least one building warden. Immediately following the evacuation of “able bodied” building occupants, those with disabilities who are capable of using the stairs should be assisted from the building by an escort or warden. Another warden or escort should remain with those in the “safe place” awaiting evacuation. People who are incapable of using the stairs should be evacuated under the control of the attending emergency services.

4.12.3 Severe weather response

A procedure must outline the processes required in the event of severe weather. It is imperative that action is taken to secure the site prior to severe weather reaching the site to ensure the safety of all people on site.

Severe weather includes:

  • Lightning
  • Hail
  • High Winds
  • Heavy Rain
  • Thunder Storms

The Chief Warden, the Emergency Control Organisation and suppliers must make several key decisions in consultation with agencies such as the Bureau of Meteorology and Emergency Services;

  • What wind speeds are predicted?
  • What direction is the wind predicted to be from?
  • What gust speeds are predicted?
  • What duration is anticipated?
  • Is lightning predicted?
  • Is hail or rain predicted?
  • Is it safe to evacuate or will that process endanger the safety of people on-site?


It is important to consider several key safety requirements when considering what actions should be taken:

  • Is staff required to climb structures that may be the target of lightning strikes or high wind?
  • Are public likely to shelter under trees or structures that may be the target of lighting strikes?
  • Is there a safe area for staff to assemble?
  • Should the site be evacuated?
  • Have all loose items been secured?


It may be necessary to make a public announcement to advice the general public of predicted adverse weather to ensure their safety. If a public announcement is required the Chief Warden will make the decision and the wording of the announcement will be scripted in consolation with the Bureau of Meteorology. The wording of the announcement must clearly outline the predicted threat of the weather conditions and what actions should be taken by public to ensure their safety without creating panic.


During severe weather on site the site office will log and record data gathered from the on site weather monitoring equipment as well as data provided by the Bureau of Meteorology for future reference.

4.12.4 Assembly areas

When allocating assembly areas near the event site or venue, there are a number of things to be considered to make sure the area suits the intended use. Size

The occupancy density of an assembly area should not exceed 4 people/m2. At that density people are still able to move around freely. For family orientated events a density of 3 people/m2 would allow for strollers. Accessible

The area should be easily accessible, preferably without crossing any public roads. If roads have to be crossed, a traffic management plan must be developed and wardens with the required PPE and Stop/Slow signs to be trained in traffic control. Emergency services

Another consideration is making sure the flow of people is not compromising Emergency Services access to the site. Discuss the most likely direction the services may be coming from and find an assembly area in an opposite direction. Wind

Review the prevailing winds on site and find an area downwind from the event site. That way smoke or toxic fumes are unlikely to be blown in the direction of the assembly area. Lights

Many events will take place at night. Check that the route to and the area are well lit. This may require the installation of temporary ‘day maker’ portable lighting towers. If additional lighting is required, allocate a warden to check them as part of the evacuation plan. Signs

Australian Standard (AS) 1319 Safety/Emergency Signs Specifies these signs should comprise of a green rectangle with a white symbol and text with a white enclosure. First Aid

Part of the evacuation plan should be to make sure First Aid staff and First Aid kit are available in the assembly area for treatment of evacuees. If First Aid kits are normally in a fixed position, make sure there are portable kits available to be taken to the assembly area.

4.12.5 Water

Make an allocation for a warden to arrange delivery of drinking water to the assembly area.

4.12.6 Emergency response guide suggestions

  • Armed or dangerous intruder response
  • Bomb Threat Response
  • Civil Disturbance Response
  • Electrical Failure Response
  • Explosion Response
  • External Emergency Response
  • Fire Response
  • Hazardous Materials Incident Response
  • Medical Emergency Response
  • Person Entrapment Response
  • Structure Damage Response
  • Vehicle Accident (On Site) Response


Revision table:
Last revised November 2017