When you think about attending a large event, whether it be a concert, festival, or convention, you are probably not spending a whole lot of time thinking about safety plans. As attendees, we tend to trust our safety has been considered and planned for while we focus on fun, just as it should be. Nevertheless, behind every large event, there is a team of people, whose primary focus is public safety, planning every detail and aspect in conjunction with law enforcement, security, and even city officials.
“In this day and age, with active shooter situations occurring more and more frequently, planning evacuation routes and emergency response strategies is no longer enough,” says Tucson Pride’s Board of Directors President Sam Cloud. Gone are the days of a simple evacuation plan. Now the focus has shifted to public awareness and education. “Any organization hosting a large scale event carries a responsibility of taking every step possible to ensure safety, particularly by providing education and information to attendees on how to respond in case of an active shooter situation.”
With that in mind, Tucson Pride and Flagstaff Pride, both LGBTQIA+ organizations who host multiple events year round including an annual festival in each city with thousands in attendance, teamed up last month to attend an active shooter training hosted by the Coconino Sheriff’s Department. The course, designed to help organizers and citizens improve their own safety during a number of crises, emphasized “situational awareness” as well as a three-step plan known as “Avoid, Deny and Defend”.
Both Pride organizations participated and completed the course, walking away with increased knowledge and insight on how to handle a crisis. More importantly though, both organizations plan to incorporate components of the material into their festival safety plans including everything from providing training to all operations teams, as well as incorporating public education throughout the course of each festival. Public safety announcements are being incorporated into both festivals, including location of emergency exits and safe evacuation procedures, In addition, attendees will be provided with education on recognizing suspicious activity and reporting to event security immediately.