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Crisis Planning for Outdoor Stadiums

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Crisis Planning for Outdoor Stadiums

Dennis Lewis
Date of Post
Sep 27, 2009

Crisis Planning - Outdoor Stadiums 

It is safe to assume that most schools have emergency management plans that outline appropriate responses to events that happen during the school day. And some schools have written plans that accommodate the needs of a catastrophic event that might occur at a concert, theatre production, or other extracurricular activity. But how many schools have specific plans that provide instructions for administrators and other personnel in the event a tragedy or crisis occurs at an outdoor football, track, or soccer stadium? We suspect not nearly enough. 

One of the primary reasons administrators fail to put written plans into place is because the task seems so enormous and far reaching in its consequences that it is often difficult to know where to begin. Many administrators simply bet on the odds and hope that a catastrophic event will not occur and, if it does, that personnel on duty will act based upon past experiences and gut instinct to decide on an appropriate course of action. While this may indeed work some of the time, we would suggest that schools be far more strategic in their planning. 

When considering the added issues which make a successful response to a crisis at an athletic stadium more difficult, remember the following. 

  • Significant Numbers of Non-Students Will Be Present
  • Activities May Not Necessarily Be Confined to One Area
  • Sheltering & Evacuation Areas Will Be Limited
  • Communication May Be More Difficult
  • Staffing Will Be Unique

Writing The Plan - One individual should not be responsible for writing the plan. A committee should develop and sign off on the plan recommendations and components.The planning committee should include: 

  • School Administration
  • Athletic Staff
  • Custodial Personnel
  • Law Enforcement or Security
  • Concession & Gate Attendants
  • Facility/Event Managers

Additionally, administrators should do the following:

  • A copy of the plan should be kept in the ticket booth, concession stand, and the announcers table or booth at all times. A copy should also be placed in the crisis kit located at the stadium.
  • The plan should be provided to all district groups or personnel that may use the stadium during evening or Saturday events. For example, if community groups or other schools within the district use the facility on a regular basis, a copy of pertinent documents should be provided to designated representatives.
  • The plan should be environmentally protected by using plastic sleeves for paper inserts and placed within a three ringed binder. 

Plan Contents

Table of Contents - Although a stadium plan may not be lengthy, it is likely to be 8-10 pages in length and a table of contents will provide users easy access to important information in a short amount of time. 

Bulleted information - As much as possible, the plan should be written with brevity in mind. Bulleted information is always preferable to a paragraph format. 

Crisis Team Duties and Responsibilities - While supervisory staff might vary depending upon the nature of the event, there are certain duties that should be covered. These duties would include team leader, security, medical, student manager, and communications. 

Critical Call List - During a critical incident it is not the time to use a telephone directory to locate the numbers of essential personnel or agencies. This call list should be written in advance, placed within the plan and should include the telephone numbers of the superintendent, the local utility companies, telephone service, poison control, hospitals, and relocation sites etc.   Administrators should consider placing these numbers in their cell phone address books for easy and quick access.

Critical Equipment Operations - This section of the plan should include directions for operating a fire extinguisher, utility cutoffs (gas, water, electrical), and bull horns. Locations for fire extinguishers at the stadium should also be included. 

Location and Listing of Contents of Crisis Kits - The stadium should have at least one crisis kit available for use. This kit should include flashlight, batteries, blankets, a first aid kit, water, etc. Crisis kit locations should be noted within the plan. 

Instructions for the Following Events - The plan should include instructions for tornado or severe weather, chemical spills, earthquake, fire, or bomb threat. 

Location of CCTV Equipment - If applicable, the location of cameras, as well as operating instructions should be included within the plan. 

Sample Announcements - Evacuation or relocation announcements should be written and placed within the plan. The event announcer should be aware of the content and have easy access to them in case of a need to act quickly. Pre-game announcements should also be included within the plan. This would include such things as announcements regarding district tobacco policies, spectator conduct etc.

As you can see, the plan need not be lengthy.  It just needs to be written.  In real estate it may be location, locaiton, location.  However, in the business of school safety it is planning, preparation, and practice.


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