Venue and Emergencies
As a facilitator, it’s important to be familiar with the venue and all venue rules.
The organizing team is responsible for sharing all venue information with you ahead of time. Participants and others will typically approach you for this information since you will be the most visible person in the event team. You will need to know:
venue access hours
venue main point of contact information
parking information (if needed)
security support hours and contact information for the weekend and out of hours
security procedures — for example, needing to have a door fob or code to gain access to certain areas, or needing to carry a name badge at all times
facilities cleaning hours and contact information
support staff information — for example, if there will be dedicated A/V support over the weekend
It’s best practise to do a venue walk-through with the organizing team as soon as you arrive at the venue on Friday.
As a reminder, here are a few things to check during your walk-through:
There should be enough break-away spaces for teams to work in.
There should be enough power outlets and extension cords.
Make sure the team has enough supplies, including markers, post-its, flip charts, etc.
Make sure the Wi-Fi and A/V equipment is working.
Check that there is a ‘basecamp’ for the event team (volunteers, organizers, yourself) — a space to lock away personal belongings, regroup, and plan.
The restrooms should be unlocked, there should be sufficient lighting, and the air conditioning should be on the correct settings.
The facilitator should also support the organizing team by checking that the venue is clean, tidy, and helping with any venue-related issues that might arise during the event.
No two events are the same, and therefore it is impossible to control every detail. The key to dealing with emergencies is to be flexible and resilient. Prepare for what you can and calmly and efficiently deal with what you can’t.
Emergencies can take many forms, like someone falling ill, an electrical storm cutting the power to your venue, or an act of violence. Having an event emergency plan should lead to better outcomes and a safer environment for everyone.
What to do in an emergency situation:
Firstly, you should never put yourself in harm's way.
Move the group to a safe place if you are able to do this without endangering yourself.
Call emergency responders, if needed.
You are not responsible for being the savior, but people will look to you for directions. If you feel physically uncomfortable, or feel that someone else there is more capable, appoint them the leader. For example, an organizer may know the venue better and be able to lead people out.
Call or email your Techstars Community Support Contact so that we can help address the situation.
Preparation and prevention is key.
We recommend working with the organizing team to make sure the following has been covered:
Reach out to the venue and cover their emergency plan. The plan should include the location of emergency exits, how to contact emergency personnel, what to do in case of a medical emergency, a fire, a power outage etc.
Identify potential risks based on your attendee demographics and venue. This is an assessment of the most likely emergencies to arise during the event (you can use factors like age, activities, location, etc. as starting points). It can help you understand what your most significant risks are and how you can mitigate them.
Identify any participants or others supporting the event who might need special assistance during an evacuation. Determine how you’ll help them, and whose responsibility it will be.
Identify who to notify in the event of an emergency. You should always let your Techstars Community Support Contact know of any emergencies after the fact. Local authorities, ambulance services, the fire department, venue security personnel, facilities support, and main point of contact should be on your emergency contact list. Have everyone’s contact details printed out and/or easily accessible by the event team. In many cases, it’s best practice to contact the venue’s security team immediately in case of emergency, as they will be able to best communicate venue details with paramedics or the relevant emergency support service.
Set expectations for who will be responsible for reaching out to the emergency contacts. Create a responsibility hierarchy where, if someone isn’t available, the next person takes charge, and so forth.
Do a venue walk-through with your venue point of contact and cover all emergency exits, procedures, and where the emergency supplies are located, like a defibrillator and a first aid kit.
Review the emergency plan with the organizing team and confirm your emergency communication procedure. How will you let participants know what to do or what happened to avoid confusion and panic?