In football, a safety is worth two points. For those attending a college football game, safety is worth everything.
Since the highly anticipated college football season kicked off over Labor Day, thousands of students, alumni and fans pack into stadiums across the country to cheer their respective school’s football team. The stakes are even larger during nationally televised games when the eyes of the nation turn to the university itself. In many cases, the whole day revolves around the game with tailgating before and parties after, making football games some of the biggest events that campuses will host all year.
The spotlight of college football shines bright, but it also casts some long shadows.
Types of Risks at the Games
Studies have shown that, whether the game is at home or away, partying and alcohol consumption increases on college campuses during game day, as do arrests for drunkenness, DUIs, liquor law violations and public order offenses. Another study found that reports of rape and assault among 17- to 24-year-old victims increase by 28 percent on game day. According to the study, this increase is directly attributed to the spikes in drinking and partying. Although, studies prove there may be another theory. These crimes may be causally related to the violence witnessed on the field.
Since tens of thousands of people are gathering together in a very confined geographical area and are often exposed to the elements surrounding the area, there is potential for something to go horribly wrong. Whether it is triggered by natural causes, a planned attack or just simply an accident.
Recent attacks in New York, France and Bangladesh highlight the fact that public gatherings are seen as opportunities for some with threatening motives. College campuses need to be proactive in ensuring that their preparedness plans are robust and ready for large-scale events like football games.
Taking a Proactive Preparedness Stance
Most campuses have some type of emergency preparedness plans in place and some even employ emergency management professionals who are responsible for overseeing preparedness and response activities. Unfortunately, even when dedicated professionals are employed, they typically face a myriad of challenges including limited budgets, time and resources.
Despite their best efforts, it is extraordinarily difficult for them to build, maintain and properly exercise the many types of plans required for the safety surrounding a college campus. Things are even worse when a campus does not have dedicated professionals in place to manage these activities.
In order to counteract this type of response, campuses need to equip their emergency management staff with appropriate tools if they expect to achieve optimal preparedness. An example of this type of preparedness tool campuses should consider utilizing when planning for emergency support of any type of large event is a web-based information management system .
One of the biggest benefits of utilizing a web-based information management system is the ease of maintaining real-time updates during an event. As an example, an emergency manager can easily run exercises and simulations to better prepare for the game. Then during the event itself, all stakeholders can log important information for a common operating picture. And should an emergency occur, these stakeholders can rapidly transition into response mode without missing a beat. The emergency manager can assign tasks and get updates from the field in real time.
Web-based information management systems can provide a framework by which your plans can be put into action so the appropriate people are where they need to be during an emergency.