How to Plan a Safer Event

Leslie Knope is a fictional real hero of mine.

Not only is she a rare character that I enjoy watching again and again, but she’s the Queen of Preparedness. She’s the Type A, obsessive, binder making genius who has backup plans for her backup plans. (My personal favorite being her Mission Im-Pawnee-able Knope Protocol in “Emergency Response.”) I personally share very little of her unfettered enthusiasm for detail, but when it comes to thinking about the safety of your volunteers and event attendees, it’s necessary to adopt that Leslie level of commitment


Real life problems are rarely solved as quickly as in a 22-minute sitcom, but working through each possible scenario well before the event ensures that you can set an effective solution in motion quickly after the need arises. Keep reading below for some tips to keep your people safe and prepared.


Do Your Research

Warning: I’m about to use terms like ‘liability’ and ‘exhaustive list’ and other terms easily found on the Least Exciting Words list. But again, we’re talking about keeping real people safe and cared for, so hang in there with me.


When you are brainstorming topics to address in your emergency response plans, be thorough. If you’re an eternal optimist, meet up with your opposite personality to create an exhaustive list of possible problems that may arise. This can include, but is not limited to, severe weather, haphazard infrastructure, disruptive volunteers, assorted sources of violence, and general liability. Many of these topics can be categorized together and may share similar emergency plans, but listing each possibility individually helps ensure you’ve properly covered your bases.


Make a Plan

It’s time to conquer that list with a plan. Outline the action steps necessary to diffuse emergency situations, and compile your work into a central document. This document or binder should provide the details of your emergency management tactics. It’s also a great place to keep pertinent information such as contact information, event and venue details, contingency plans, permits, etc.


Share the Details

It sounds simple, but distribute the plan. Too often I’ve found myself in situations where crucial information existed but the one person who knew the plan was nowhere to be found. So frustrating! And completely unnecessary.


Place printed copies of the emergency protocols in multiple, easily accessible locations, and communicate these locations to your team leaders and volunteers. Include these details into your volunteer training events and be sure to walk through the essential details again on the day of your event. Your team and volunteers will find peace of mind knowing emergency plans exist and can perform with greater confidence if those plans need to be enacted.


Keep in Touch

As the event goes on, use your preferred communication method to keep in touch with your volunteers. As effective volunteer coordinators, you’re already doing this to encourage and manage your team. Remember to also use these lines of communications to keep tabs on any emerging situations that may need your attention.


In the end, we hope and pray these plans and protocols are completely unnecessary. We can’t all match Leslie Knope’s energy, but we do care about our volunteers just as much. In the event of an emergency, taking these steps to keep your team and your attendees as safe as possible.


Anne Summers

Anne Summers is a staff writer at VolunteerLocal. She loves good food, great people, and volunteering.