The Academy for Venue Safety & Security (AVSS) was created in 2004 by the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) as an intense training academy in security planning and life safety management for the public assembly industry. AVSS is a school designed to teach and promote the best practices of safety and security protocols, methods, and procedures. Venue management professionals are provided with the information, tools, and methodologies to protect guests, customers, employees, property, and assets through risk identification, implementation of risk management practices and procedures, emergency planning, preservation of economic viability, and facilitation of recovery.
The AVSS Methodology provides subject matter and experts who will facilitate practical and theoretical classroom studies, exercises, and field work. Beginning in 2007, AVSS adopted a “Track System” for curriculum organization and course scheduling. Each track focused on a broad-based topic critical to safety and security. All tracks consist of a series of courses designed to educate AVSS students by providing instruction, applicable tools, and experience, and will typically conclude with a practicum on the topic. The core curriculum AVSS educational tracks are:
- Risk Management
- Emergency Planning
- Security Operations
Why Risk Management?
Risk represents any uncertainty about the future. Risks can be financial, political, structural, or any other concern that might affect assets including people, property, finances, intellectual capital, or goodwill. Put another way, a facility manager needs to reduce the potential for serious injuries, death, property damage, data corruption, and numerous other risks. In order to control these risks, a risk management program must be developed. Risk management is a continually updated process designed to protect an intended item, person, or property.
Risk management is a vital process that every public assembly venue operator must become familiar with because of its impact on the day-to-day operations of a successful facility. Every day, venue managers must make a vast number of business decisions which in reality are actually risk acceptance decisions. Any business/risk acceptance decision requires careful planning and consideration. Only when all elements are explored fully and a cost/benefit risk analysis is done can a venue manager make the proper choice.
To be effective, a risk management program needs to be global in perspective, forward-looking, and integrated with other strategies developed through teamwork that has incorporated a shared vision by all those who will be impacted. Any risk management strategy needs to focus on what the facility is trying to protect, which are its assets. Risk management can be viewed as a defensive strategy and/or an offensive strategy. Risks are positive and negative.
Public assembly facilities around the world host mass gatherings of people on a regular basis and can be considered as possible/probable targets of terrorism and social disorder. Security and emergency procedures, though prevalent in most venues, are now more overt in nature and extensive in options and must continually be reviewed and evaluated for application to possible emergencies.
Why Emergency Planning?
An emergency is an unplanned event that may cause death or significant injuries to employees, clients, or the public and/or may disrupt operations, shut down the facility, cause physical or environmental damage, or threaten the facility’s financial standing or public image.
An emergency plan is an integrated plan that defines and documents the steps and actions to be taken by the facility staff and public safety agencies to minimize or eliminate the potential harm to occupants of the facility and/or facility damages. A comprehensive emergency plan reduces the exposure and results of emergency situations through preparedness, prevention, early detection, communication, evacuation/relocation (if necessary), damage control, and recovery activities. Every facility and community is unique and therefore, each emergency plan must be customized to meet the needs of the facility. It is necessary that each facility develops its own emergency plan taking into consideration the facility design, facility environment and activities, staff resources, public safety agencies, applicable governmental regulations, operational policies and procedures, political environment, and community. In addition, every emergency situation is unique and requires its own specific response so the facility emergency plan must address this.
An emergency plan serves six primary functions: provide life safety and protection; mitigate, minimize and/or eliminate damage and harm; provide for emergency preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery; meet or exceed mandated regulations; provide for clear and explicit internal and external channels of communication; and reduce liabilities and loss.
Why Security Operations?
Facility security operations are the 24/7/365 of protocols, procedures, and standards by which your facility regulates and monitors activities and risks. Every facility—no matter how small or large—needs to monitor non-event activity, as well as event-day operations.
When preparing your facility security operations, it is very important to know and understand what you are trying to secure and keep safe. These items are your assets. Webster’s defines assets as, “The entire property of a person, association, corporation or estate; an item of value owned.” In a facility/organization, large or small, there are plenty of assets that we want to protect. From the definition above, it can be really easy to identify what our assets are, but we need to look outside the box when securing our facilities. It is not only what is inside the box that is valuable, but it is actually the box, its wrapping, and the many different types of people using the facility. Many tend to think we only try to secure the structure of our facility, but if you were to pick up your facility and turn it upside down and shake it, can you just imagine how much equipment and material would fall out? Those items are valuable assets to your facility.
The AVSS overall mission is to teach and promote the best practices of safety and security protocols providing venue management professionals with the tools to protect guests, customers, staff members, and property. Among the tools provided are risk management practices and procedures, emergency planning, preserving economic viability, and facilitating recovery. For the purposes of this discipline, the term “staff member” includes all facility staff members, contractors, and service partners involved in service delivery at a facility without regard for their employers.
Why is training important, and what do we need to have in place before beginning our training exercises? Just as routine knowledge of a facility is important to ensure guest service (e.g., knowing the location of all restrooms or public phones), so too, is knowledge of each staff member’s role in an emergency. For staff members to effectively respond to an emergency, they must first have knowledge of their roles, have those roles demonstrated, and finally, practice their responses under realistic conditions. The best-laid out plans are not effective if they are not implemented or cannot be executed. It is important for all staff members to know what to do in the event of an emergency.
Who should be trained in emergency procedures? Those staff members with direct responsibility for public safety and those who may find themselves dealing with the public in emergency circumstances should receive training in emergency practices. For example, housekeeping staff members are often the first to discover life-threatening first-aid emergencies or even routine concerns such as water leaks or spills. These staff members must be equipped with complete knowledge of the procedures to report and respond to these events. All staff members working in a facility should have a general understanding of emergency procedures even if they are not involved in certain specific roles/tasks. The AVSS curriculum exhibits that training should be thought of as a continuing process beginning with a staff member’s first-day orientation and continuing throughout his or her career. Training methods run from orientation through full-scale exercises. In addition to these mechanisms, other opportunities for training include classroom training and tabletop exercises, among others. Staff members should receive general training on how to respond to general questions, incidents, or emergencies that take place at any time whether during an event or non-event workday.
Emergencies are often thought of as being catastrophic events with broad reaching affects. But emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and include heart attacks and other life-threatening situations. Every staff member must be able to react to these smaller, yet no less serious, situations with the same certainty as a major event. Opportunities to reinforce training exist during all routine or scheduled meetings and during show briefings.
At the end of the day, nothing is more important that the safety and security of the facilities we manage. The educational disciplines/content that AVSS offers to the attendee is invaluable information meant to ensure sharing the best practices of safety and security protocols, methods, and procedures to the industry professional. FM