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Emergency Services Planning for Music Festivals in the UK.

Andy Robertson

An essential part of any planning for a music festival is incorporating local emergency services in the process. Involvement of the emergency services is a key aspect to any music festival and forms part of organiser's obligations to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone on a festival site whether they are staff, contractors, artists, volunteers or festival-goers.  

There is a plethora of information and guides available for festival organisers to refer to when planning emergency services coordination for their events. There are legal requirements and guidance that must be followed and this is laid out in information available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website that has a whole section dedicated to running events safely. There is a legal requirement for event organisers to have good Public Liability insurance to cover potential damages resulting from injurers or property damage on a festival site. Gaining permission from local authorities for a festival to proceed with all the necessary licenses will usually stipulate coordination with local emergency services and should be part of the organisers proposals when making applications anyway. 

Emergency Services Coordination. 
Festival organisers must contact the appropriate departments, usually this a senior person working at the local Police, Fire and NHS offices. Each organisation will have a set of processes and procedures for coordinating with event organisers and many may be used to dealing with large scale events.

The police will need a full understanding of the logistics plans for the event including dates and expected number of visitors as this will enable them to plan an allocation of resources for traffic management and having an on-site presence. The police on-site will be mostly concerned with maintaining law and order including the prevention of, and dealing with, any violent behaviour, theft or other criminal activities. They are also often on a festival site to enforce restrictions applicable to narcotics legislation.

Fire Service. 
The fire service will insist on an on-site inspection by a suitably qualified person to certify that a site is safe. Specifically, inspection reports should cover an assessment of any fire risks and hazards present on the entire festival site. The fire service will also need assurances about any disaster recovery plans particularly routes for evacuation for example. The fire service is unlikely to be in attendance at an event but they may increase staffing over a festival weekend just in case. 

Health Services (NHS).
The NHS will probably only require notification of the event to ensure they are prepared for potential disasters. Most on-site medical centres and services are usually provided by external contractors or by organisations like the Red Cross or St Johns Ambulance service.

Guides on Implementation. 
As mentioned above the HSE provide comprehensive guidance on planning and organising outdoor events. The other great free to use resource is the Purple Guide produced by EIF Ltd which is available online via their website and provides invaluable guidance for music festival organisers on what their obligations are and how to plan and implement them.  Many organisers choose to employ specialist contractors or consultants who will manage local authority applications and coordination with local emergency services. This can save them lots of time and ensures that an experienced professional is handling these important processes. 

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.  


Andy Robertson
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