In depth info for Convention Planners

Make A Plan

Do you have a basic emergency response plan? Developing a simple and effective emergency response plan is something every event/convention should do. A basic emergency response plan should include a basic risk analysis based on the type of event or convention you’re putting on.

Make A Plan

Make a plan today. Your convention staff may not be together if an unforeseen situation strikes. Start with establishing a basic chain of command and central meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.

Step 1: Put together a plan by discussing these 5 questions with your convention staff or coordinating committee.

  1. How big is your event in attendance?
  2. What is your location ie Hotel, Convention Center, Civic Hall?
  3. Have you considered First Aid and Safety staff/services?
  4. What is my evacuation plan/meeting place in the event of an emergency?
  5. What is my convention’s communication plan and chain of command in the event of an emergency?

Step 2:  Consider specific needs for your convention

As you prepare your plan, discuss your needs and responsibilities. Decide how people in your staff and extended network can assist each other with communication, convention guests, staffing or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance. Please keep in mind some these factors when developing your plan:

  • Ability and experiences of your staff members.
  • How many staff members are on your conventions/event staff?
  • Responsibilities for assisting others.
  • Locations frequented.
  • Specialized training and skills that may be needed.
  • Medical equipment needs including AEDs, radios or first aid gear.
  • Disabilities of guests, staff, and participants in the event of an evacuation or first aid emergency
  • Languages spoken.
  • Cultural and religious considerations.
  • Pets or service animals.
  • Large mass gatherings such as dances, concerts, masquerades or outdoor gathering.

Step 3:  Specific policies, situations, and First Aid/Safety training

Is alcohol being used and consumed during the convention or event?

This is a sensitive subject since many conventions and events, are alcohol-free or have policies prohibiting alcohol use and consumption. While there are great variations between the numerous conventions and events, alcohol consumption and use should be taken into consideration either publicly or privately depending on the event in question. Alcohol consumption whether it’s officially sanctioned or otherwise has been linked to increased instances of First Aid emergencies and security situations. Please see our Alcohol Emergencies section for more helpful info. 

Consider liability and your insurance options.

Talk with a certified insurance agent or broker for your area to consider all of your insurance options for your event.

Have all your staff take basic active shooter and crowd management training.

We recommend these two training programs for all convention staffers and event attendees. In the event of a major emergency, it is very helpful to have both convention staff and attendees trained in these two crucial areas.  

Consider First Aid and CPR training for all of your staff.

Having the proper training and know how to save a life is important. Getting CPR and First Aid training can mean the difference between life and death.

Take a good, serious look at your cosplay and weapon policies. 

Convention cosplay weapon policies vary greatly and are vastly different from event to event. One’s event’s policies may be different from others. We highly recommend every convention and event re-evaluate their weapon policy at least every two years. State and local laws regarding weapons may apply. We recommend you solicit a wide variety of sources inside and outside your convention/event when evaluating this policy.

Have proactive and comprehensive harassment and consent policies.

Successful relationships between conventions and attendees depend on trust.  Addressing safety and consent issues will take more than the strong writing of policy and procedures. A culture of safety and good stewardship towards consent and harassment issues should be embraced by management down to the most basic staff member. Doing that will promote a culture of safety and polish a positive environment for all participants. For more info please see our harassment and consent section for convention planners.

Step 4: Consider your staffing levels for any First Aid department/staffers specific to your convention or event.

There is considerable debate about the ideal number of dedicated First Aid staffers. We recommend that every convention and event have some sort of dedicated First Aid department. Having a dedicated First Aid department reduces risk and injuries, increases safety and provides a well-rounded culture of safety and wellness for all attendees and staff. See our recommended First Aid department staffing level page for more info.

Lastly, we highly recommend you re-evaluate your emergency plans at least once every two years or when you make any major changes to them.

Join the Make A Plan Coalition.

The Make A Plan Coalition is a broad, voluntary coalition within the nerd and pop culture community working to improve First Aid and safety nationwide through education and outreach to key national stakeholders and public decision makers. The coalition promotes policies and a culture of safety and first aid in North America, with special emphasis on those who are disproportionately impacted. Membership is free and there are many benefits to being a member. 


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