Backbone Talks: Never Underestimate Safety November 5, 2018

“It will never happen to me” by Captain EJ Smith (Captain of the Titanic – quoted in the press just before sailing)

Underestimating hazards/risks is perhaps more dangerous than the hazard/risk itself. Titanic is a good example of this. A captain, who misjudges the possible risks in advance, therefore prepares wrongly for the possible risks. The moment that a situation arises, which he underestimated and he therefore does not respond adequately, with a catastrophic consequence. The control is completely lost and eventually leaves his ship in panic prematurely.

This is what I do not want to experience as a Risk & Crowd Services manager.

A safe event is the basis for the successful organization of the event itself. One mistake and as an organizer you lose the trust of fans, enthusiasts, and (potential) visitors… it takes years to regain trust once more.

As a Risk & Crowd Services Manager, I am constantly analyzing potential risks for organizers. This starts with an analysis of the visitors. How many visitors do we expect? Do we expect more men than women? Are they fans of a certain act and/or event? What is the expected consumption behavior of the target group during the event? Which age category are our visitors? Are the guests arriving by car, bicycle, organized transport or by public transport? How can we communicate with the visitors? All these and many other questions give a good picture of the group how we can expect and how to deal with any risks.

In addition to the group analysis, it must be well mapped what the venue or location has to offer and where “location specific” risks lie. What facilities are there? Which (and how many) facilities should be placed with respect to the group? With the facilities, that we are going to take, which risk/bottlenecks can we still expect? What kind of measures do we have to take to reduce the risks and remove the bottlenecks?

Based on the collected information, I make a safety-plan in the preliminary stage of the event. In this planning, I explain exactly what measures and provisions I will take. Of course, as an R&CS manager one cannot exclude all risks, but through the safety-plan you prepare for the biggest and most common risks.

In addition to a safety plan, as an R&CS manager, you are also looking for the balance between the possible and the impossible. There are a number of characteristic fields for conflict:

  • Unnecessarily run a risk vs wanting to exclude unnecessary risks
  • Maximum revenue vs visitors’ satisfaction
  • Permit requirements vs special acts

By always weighing the risks against the rules lay out by the local authorities, we can set up a safe, spectacular, and “state of the art” event together with the organizer.

Not only prior to the event am I concerned with the safety of the visitors. During the event, I am also continuously monitoring the crowd. Identifying unsafe situations and responding adequately to them is, in addition to good preparation, perhaps the most important task for an R&CS manager.

As a Risk & Crowd Services Manager at Backbone International, it is my duty to give the visitors a spectacular and safe experience, while ensuring they make it home safely. In preparation of an event, we take every risk in account and prepare for the worst. If it happens, we know what to do to keep our visitors safe.

From the moment I started working at Backbone, I am aware of the role we as Backbone instill, regarding the safety of visitors, crew, and environment. Safety is an indispensable topic in our industry, certainly not with the events in the world in our minds. Fortunately, I can contribute with my expertise to the safety of our productions.

– Robbert Stolwijk


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