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Event Emergency Action Plan (EEAP)

Emergency planning for events at South Dakota State University is crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of attendees, staff, and volunteers. The Emergency Management Team at SDSU has determined thresholds from best practices to ensure events have an Event Emergency Action Plan. 

If your event that you are planning meets any of these thresholds listed below, please reach out to Emergency Management (x4251) to assist you with developing an Event Emergency Action Plan (EEAP) for your event.  

Event Thresholds are:

  • 500+ in attendance and/or;
  • Alcohol at the event and/or;
  • a Youth Minor Program and/or;
  • Any Outdoor Event.

Emergency Management has a template to assist you with the Event Emergency Action Plan.

Below is a comprehensive checklist of things to help you think about emergency planning and help you prepare for emergencies at university events:

Event Emergency Planning Checklist

Risk Assessment: It’s important to conduct a thorough risk assessment before the event, considering the specific nature of the event, the venue, and the expected attendees.  This assessment will help in developing effective emergency management plans and procedures to mitigate potential risks and hazards. 

  • Identify potential risks and hazards associated with the event (e.g., weather, crowd size, venue layout).
    • Weather
      • Extreme Temperatures:  Heatwaves or wind chills can lead to discomfort, heat exhaustion, or hypothermia.
      • Precipitation: Rain, Snow, or storms can create slippery conditions, impede visibility, and lead to flooding in certain areas.
    • Crowd Size and Density:
      • Overcrowding: Large crowds can lead to congestion, difficulty in movement, and potential for accidents or injuries.
      • Stampedes or Crushes:  Poorly managed crowds can result in dangerous situations, especially during entrances, exits, or popular attractions. 
    • Venue Layout
      • Inadequate Signage:  Poor signage can lead to confusion and difficulty in finding essential facilities like exits, restrooms, and first aid stations.
      • Obstacles and Hazards: Uneven terrain, tripping hazards, or obstacles in walkways can lead to accidents. 
    • Fire Hazards
      • Flammable Materials: Improper storage or handling of flammable materials can lead to fires.
      • Electrical Issues: Faulty wiring or overloaded circuits can pose a significant fire risk.
    • Medical Emergencies
      • Pre-existing Health Conditions: Attendees with known medical conditions may require special attention or assistance.
      • Unforeseen Health Issues: Sudden illnesses or injuries can occur, necessitating immediate medical attention.
    • Security and Safety Concerns
      • Terrorism or Criminal Activity: the potential for acts of violence, terrorism, or other criminal activities should be considered.
      • Theft or Vandalism: Large gatherings can be targets for theft or vandalism.
    • Traffic and Transportation
      • Traffic Congestion: Heavy traffic before and after an event can lead to delays and safety risks.
    • Food Safety
      • Foodborne Illnesses: Improper food handling and storage can lead to outbreaks of foodborne Illnesses.
    • Natural Disasters
      • Floods, Tornadoes, Lightning, etc.: Depending on the location of the event, natural disasters can pose significant risks. 
    • Communications Failure
      • Loss of Communications Channels: Inability to communicate effectively with event staff, emergency services, or attendees.
    • Technological Failures
      • Power Outages: Electrical failures can disrupt the event and pose safety risks. 
    • Medical and Safety Equipment Failure
      • Defibrillator or First Aid Kit Malfunctions: Equipment meant for emergencies may not function as intended.
    • Specialized Risks (Pyrotechnics, etc.) 
      • Special effects or displays that involve pyrotechnics, fireworks, or other potentially hazardous materials. 
  • Consider the location, weather conditions, historical incident data, and type of event: 

By thoroughly considering these factors, event planners can develop a comprehensive emergency management plan that addresses potential risks and hazards specific to their event and location.

  • Location: 
    • Urban vs. Rural: Urban areas may have different emergency services response times compared to rural areas. Access to medical facilities and transportation options can also vary.
    • Proximity to Natural Hazards: Locations near bodies of water or in flood-prone areas may have unique risks related to natural disasters.
    • Weather Conditions:
      • Seasonal Variations: Different seasons can bring different weather challenges. For example, winter events may face risks associated with snow and ice, while summer events may deal with heat-related issues.
      • Extreme Weather: Events held during periods of extreme weather conditions (e.g., heatwaves, storms) may require specific preparations.
    • Historical Incident Data:
      • Previous Incidents: Analyzing past events in the same or similar locations can provide valuable insights into potential risks. For example, if a previous event experienced a heatwave, similar precautions should be taken for future events in hot climates.
    • Type of Event:
      • Concerts/Festivals: These events often involve large crowds, potentially leading to crowd management and safety concerns.
      • Sports Events: Depending on the sport, there may be specific risks associated with the venue, such as injuries related to the sport itself.
      • Academic Conferences: These events may have fewer physical risks but may require considerations for medical emergencies and fire safety.
      • Outdoor vs. Indoor: Outdoor events may face different weather-related risks, while indoor events might have specific concerns related to venue capacity and evacuation.
    • Accessibility and Transportation:
      • Proximity to Public Transportation: Easy access to public transportation can impact crowd flow and emergency response.
      • Parking and Traffic: Consideration should be given to parking availability and traffic management.
    • Local Regulations and Laws:
      • Permit Requirements: Ensuring compliance with local regulations and obtaining necessary permits is crucial for safety and legal reasons.
    • Infrastructure:
      • Venue Condition: The state of the venue, including its electrical, plumbing, and structural elements, can affect safety.
      • Emergency Services Availability: Knowing the location of nearby hospitals, fire stations, and police stations is vital.
    • Special Considerations:
      • Special Effects or Displays: Events with special effects, pyrotechnics, or fireworks should have extra safety measures in place.
      • Alcohol and Security: Events serving alcohol may need enhanced security measures to handle potential intoxication-related incidents.
    • Crowd Profile:
      • Age and Demographics: The age and background of attendees may impact medical considerations and security needs.
    • Communications Infrastructure:
    • Cellular Reception: Ensure that attendees and staff have reliable cellular coverage for communication during emergencies.
  • Situational Awareness
    • Crucial for per-event planning as it enables event organizers to understand their surroundings, identify potential risks, and make informed decisions. 

Emergency Response Team:

  • Designate and train a team responsible for handling emergencies.
  • Assign specific roles (e.g., incident commander, first aid, communication).

Communication Plan

  • Establish clear channels of communication (e.g., radios, phone numbers, walkie-talkies).
  • Ensure all team members have access to this information and can communicate effectively in case of an emergency. 

Emergency Procedures:

  • Develop detailed emergency response procedures for different scenarios (e.g., medical emergencies, severe weather, fire, active shooter).
  • Determine the proximity and accessibility of emergency services, including hospitals, fire stations, and police stations. 
  • Understand response times and capabilities of these services. 

Medical Assistance:

  • Arrange for on-site medical personnel, including first aid stations and paramedics if necessary. 

Venue Layout and Evacuation Plans:

  • Familiarize the team with the layout of the venue and designate primary and secondary evacuation routes.

Collaboration with Local Authorities:

  • Establish contact with local police, fire, and medical services for coordination during emergencies.

Weather Monitoring:

  • Keep track of weather forecasts leading up to and during the event. Have a plan for severe weather conditions.

Equipment and Supplies:

  • Ensure availability of first aid kits, fire extinguishers, AEDs, and any other necessary emergency equipment.

Security Measures:

  • Implement appropriate security measures, including access control, bag checks, and personnel screening, based on the nature of the event and potential security risks.

Incident Reporting:

By following these steps, event organizers can ensure that incidents are reported promptly, responded to effectively, and properly documented for future reference and analysis. This helps maintain a safe and secure environment for all attendees.

  • Set up a system for reporting incidents and emergencies to the command center.
  • Establish Clear Reporting Procedures:
    • Ensure that all staff members and volunteers are aware of the incident reporting procedures. This should include who to report to, and what information should be provided. 
  • Designate Incident Reporters: 
    • Assign specific individuals or teams responsible for receiving and documenting incident reports. This could include members of the emergency response team, security personnel or designated event staff. 
  • Immediate Response:
    • In the event of an incident, ensure that immediate action is taken to address the situation. This may involve providing first aid, evacuating the affected area, or contacting emergency services if necessary. 
  • Collect Detailed Information: 
    • When an incident occurs, the reporter should gather as much information as possible, including:
      • Date, time and location of the incident
      • Nature of the incident (Medical emergency, fire, security breach, etc.)
      • Names and contact information of involved parties (if applicable).
      • Description of what happened, including any observable injuries or damage.
      • Any actions taken in response to the incident. 
  • Use Incident Report Forms:
    • Provide incident report forms that prompt reporters to provide the necessary information. These forms should be readily available and easy to fill out. 
  • Maintain Confidentiality:
    • Stress the importance of confidentiality in incident reporting. Encourage reporters to focus on facts and avoid speculation or personal opinions. 
  • Notify the Incident Commander (IC):
    • Ensure that the IC or designated person is promptly informed of the incident. This individual will be responsible for overseeing the response and making decisions about further actions.
  • Initiate Emergency Response:
    • Based on the information provided in the incident report, the IC will determine the appropriate emergency response actions. This may involve deploying first responders, evacuating the area, or implementing other safety measures. 
  • Document the Response:
    • Record the actions taken in response to the incident, including any medical treatment provided, evacuation procedures or other interventions. 
  • Notify Relevant Authorities:
    • If necessary, notify the local emergency services, law enforcement or other relevant authorities about the incident. 
  • Communicate with Stakeholders:
    • Keep event organizers, attendees and relevant parties informed about he incident and any actions being taken.
  • Follow-Up and Documentation:
    • After the incident has been addressed, ensure that a detailed incident report is completed. This report should include a summary of the incident, actions taken and any follow-up steps that need to be taken. 
  • Review and Improve:
    • After the event, conduct a thorough review of the incident and the response to identify areas for improvement in future emergency management planning. 

Monitoring and Communication:

By diligently monitoring the event and maintaining effective communication channels, event organizers can respond promptly to incidents and emergencies, ensuring the safety and well-being of all attendees.

  • Continuously monitor the event for any signs of potential emergencies.
    • Designate Observation Points:
      • Identify strategic locations within the venue where staff members can observe different areas of the event. These points should provide clear visibility of the crowd, entrances/exits and key activity areas.
    • Use Technology and Surveillance Systems:
      • Employ technology such as CCTV cameras, drones, or other surveillance systems to monitor different areas of the event. Ensure that the feed is accessible to designated personnel. 
    • Assign Spotters or Observers:
      • Have trained spotters or observers positioned at critical locations. These individuals should be responsible for closely monitoring specific areas and reporting any unusual activities or incidents. 
    • Crowd Density and Flow:
      • Continuously monitor crowd density and flow to identify potential areas of congestion or overcrowding. This can help prevent safety hazards related to crowd management. 
    • Weather and Environmental Conditions:
      • Keep a close eye on weather conditions throughout the event. Monitor forecasts and be prepared to implement plans for severe weather, if necessary.   
    • Security Personnel Patrols:
      • Deploy security personnel to conduct regular patrols of the venue. This includes checking key areas for any signs of suspicious activity or potential security risks. 
    • Incident Detection Systems:
      • Utilize specialized system (fire alarms, intrusion detection, etc.) to automatically detect specific types of incidents and provide immediate alerts. 
  • Communication
    • Establish Clear Communications Channels
      • Ensure that there are reliable communication channels in place, including radios, phones, walkie-talkies and designated frequencies for different teams. 
    • Designate Communications Points:
      • Identify specific locations or individuals responsible for receiving and relaying information. This includes a central command post and key personnel with access to communication devices.
    • Emergency Codes and Signals:
      • Implement a system of codes or signals to convey specific messages quickly and discreetly, especially in situations where verbal communication may not be appropriate. 
    • Regular Check-Ins and Updates:
      • Schedule regular check-ins among team members and departments to share updates on the event’s status and any relevant information. 
    • Incident Reporting:
      • Encourage staff and attendees to promptly report any incidents, no matter how small, using established reporting procedures. 
    • Chain of Command:
      • Clearly define the chain of command for communication during an emergency. This ensures that information flows efficiently from the initial report to the incident commander. 
    • Use of social media and Public Announcements:
      • Utilize social media platforms and public announcements (if applicable) to disseminate important information to attendees.
    • Coordination with External Agencies:
      • Maintain open communications with local emergency services, law enforcement and other relevant external agencies to coordinate responses if needed.
    • Language and Accessibility Considerations:
      • Consider the language preferences and accessibility needs of attendees to ensure that communication is effective for all individuals.

First Aid Stations:

Ensure first aid stations are well-equipped and staffed with trained medical personnel.

  • Staffing and Rotation:
    • Ensure that first aid stations are adequately staffed and implement a rotation schedule for medical personnel to allow for breaks.
  • Continuous monitoring:
    • Medical personnel should continuously monitor the station for any attendees seeking assistance and be vigilant for potential medical issues.
  • Triage and Assessment:
    • Implement a triage system to prioritize patients based on the severity of their condition. Conduct thorough assessments and provide appropriate care.
  • Basic Medical Procedures:
    • Administer basic medical procedures as needed, such as wound care, splinting, administering medication (if authorized), and providing first aid for minor injuries.
  • Documentation:
    • Maintain detailed records of all medical interactions, including patient information, assessments, treatments provided and any referrals made.
  • Replenish Supplies:
    • Regularly restock first aid supplies to ensure that the station is well-equipped at all times. Assign a responsible person to monitor and replenish supplies as needed.
  • Communication with Command Center:
    • Maintain open communication with the event's command center to report any significant medical incidents or request additional resources, if required.
  • Coordination with Emergency Services:
    • Establish protocols for coordinating with external emergency services if a situation exceeds the capabilities of the first aid station.

Evacuation Procedures:

Be prepared to initiate evacuations if necessary, and direct attendees to safe assembly areas.

  • Initial Alert and Notification:
    • If an Evacuation is necessary, activate the venue’s alarm system and use clear, concise announcements to inform attendees of the situation.
  • Designated Evacuation Team:
    • Assign specific individuals or teams to serve as evacuation leaders or guides, responsible for directing attendees to the nearest exits and assembly areas.
  • Evacuation Routes and Exits:
    • Direct attendees use the predetermined evacuation routes and exits. Ensure that these paths are free from obstructions.
  • Assist Vulnerable Individuals:
    • Aid individuals with disabilities or special needs, ensuring they have a safe and accessible route to exit.
  • Crowd Management:
    • Implement crowd control measures to prevent overcrowding and maintain a steady flow of attendees towards the exits.
  • Evacuation Team Coordination:
    • Maintain communication between members of the evacuation team to ensure that all attendees are moving safely towards the designated assembly areas.
  • Check for Stragglers:
    • Conduct a sweep of the venue to identify and assist any attendees who may have been left behind or are having difficulty evacuating.

Weather Alerts:

Monitor weather updates and be prepared to implement plans for severe weather conditions.

  • Continuous Weather monitoring:
    • Continuously monitor weather conditions using reliable sources. Pay close attention to any updates or alerts regarding severe weather.
  • Weather Alert Notifications:
    • If a severe weather alert is issued, immediately notify the event staff, attendees and relevant stakeholders. Use clear and concise messages to convey the situation.
  • Activate Severe Weather Plan:
    • Implement the severe weather action plan, which may include initiating an evacuation, directing attendees to sheltered areas, or taking other appropriate protective measures.
  • Designated Weather Liaison:
    • Designate a specific individual as the weather liaison responsible for maintaining communication with external weather agencies and providing updates to the event team.
  • Provide Shelter and Instructions:
    • If sheltering is required, provide clear instructions to attendees on where to go and how to seek shelter. Ensure that designated shelter areas are well-marked.

Crowd Management:

Monitor crowd density and flow to prevent overcrowding in any area.

  • Visible Signage and Information:
    • Display clear and visible signage to direct attendees to key areas, including restrooms, first aid stations, exits and special attractions.
  • Crowd Density Monitoring:
    • Keep a close eye on crowd density in different areas of the venue. Take proactive measures to prevent overcrowding, especially near entrances, exits, and popular attractions.
  • Communication with Attendees:
    • Provide announcements and instructions as needed, using public address systems or mobile apps[JPT1], to keep attendees informed of important information.
  • Designated Walkways and Zones:
    • Create designated walkways to guide attendees through the venue. Use barriers or markings to delineate zones and maintain orderly flow.
  • Crowd Behavior Observation:
    • Observe crowd behavior for signs of distress, agitation or potential issues. Intervene early to prevent escalations. 
  • Emergency Response Team Coordination:
    • Work closely with the emergency response team to coordinate crowd management strategies in the event of an incident or emergency.
  • Lost and Found Area:
    • Establish a designated area for lost and found items, staffed by trained personnel to assist attendees.

Conduct a thorough post-event debriefing (After Action Review), organizers can gather valuable insights, improve future planning, and ensure that each event is a safer and more successful experience for all involved.

  • Schedule the Debriefing:
    • Set a specific time and date for the debriefing session, ideally within a few days after the event while details are still fresh in everyone’s minds. 
  • Invite relevant participants:
    • Include key stakeholders, event organizers, department heads, security personnel, emergency response teams and any other individuals who played a significant role in the event's planning and execution.
  • Create an agenda:
    • Outline a structured agenda to ensure that all important aspects of the event are discussed. This may include topics like logistics, safety, communication, attendee feedback, and emergency response.
  • Start with Positives:
    • Begin the debriefing on a positive note by highlighting successful aspects of the event. Recognize accomplishments, commend team members, and celebrate any achievements.
  • Review Event Objectives:
    • Revisit the original goals and objectives set for the event. Discuss to what extent these objectives were met and if there were any deviations from the initial plan.
  • Analyze Logistics and Operations:
    • Assess the logistical aspects of the event, including venue setup, accessibility, ticketing, transportation and any technical or equipment issues that arose.
  • Evaluate Crowd Management:
    • Discuss crowd management strategies and their effectiveness. Identify any challenges encountered and evaluate how they were addressed.
  • Safety and Security Review:
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of safety and security measures, including access control, emergency response, first aid stations, and communication protocols.
  • Review Communications Protocols:
    • Assess the effectiveness of communication channels and systems used during the event. Discuss any communication breakdowns or areas for improvement.
  • Discuss Attendee Feedback:
    • Review feedback received from attendees through surveys, comments, or direct interactions. Analyze positive feedback and address any concerns or suggestions.
  • Address Incidents or Emergencies:
    • If there were any incidents or emergencies during the event, discuss how they were handled and identify any lessons learned for future planning.
  • Identify Areas for Improvement:
    • Encourage open discussion about areas that could be improved for future events. This may include processes, procedures, or specific aspects of event planning.
  • Document Action Items:
    • Take notes on specific action items and recommendations that arise during the debriefing. Assign responsibilities for implementing these improvements.
  • Establish a timeline for follow-up:
    • Set a timeline for when action items will be addressed and follow-up on progress during subsequent meetings.
  • End on a Positive Note:
    • Conclude the debriefing on a positive and forward-looking note, expressing gratitude to the team for their hard work and commitment.


Post-event documentation is crucial for reviewing the success of the event, identifying areas for improvement, and maintaining a record of the planning and execution process. Document all incidents, responses and outcomes for future reference and analysis.

  • Event Summary Report:
    • Create a comprehensive event summary report that includes an overview of the event, its objectives, attendance figures, and key highlights.
  • Executive Summary:
    • Provide a summary highlighting the event's success, achievements and any significant outcomes.
  • Attendee Feedback and Surveys:
    • Compile and analyze attendee feedback, comments and surveys to gain insights into their experience and areas for improvement.
  • Incident Reports
    • Document any incidents, emergencies, or notable occurrences that took place during the event. Include details of how they were handled.
  • Financial Records
    • Maintain detailed financial records, including budget allocation, expenses, revenue and any financial transactions related to the event. 
  • Logistics and Operations Assessment:
    • Evaluate the logistical aspects of the event, including venue setup, transportation, equipment rentals and any technical issues encountered.
  • Crowd Management Evaluation
    • Assess the effectiveness of crowd management strategies and provide recommendations for improvement.
  • Safety and Security Review:
    • Document the effectiveness of safety and security measures, including access control, emergency response and any incidents related to safety. 
  • Communication Protocols Assessment:
    • Evaluate the efficiency of communication channels and systems used during the event. 
    • Document any communication breakdowns and lessons learned.
  • Marketing and Promotion Evaluations:
    • Review the effectiveness of marketing efforts, promotional activities, and advertising channels used to promote the event. 
  • Vendor and Service Provider Records:
    • Keep a record of all vendors, service providers and contractors involved in the event, including contracts, agreements and contact information. 
  • Photos and Visual Documentation:
    • Collect photographs, videos or other visual documentation that captures key moments, setups and attendee interactions. 
  • Action Items and Recommendations:
    • Documents specific action items and recommendations for improvement based on the insights gained from the event. 
  • Lessons Learned and Best Practices:
    • Summarize the lessons learned and best practices identified during the event. Use these insights to inform future planning.
  • Timeline and Milestones:
    • Create a timeline of important milestones and deadlines leading up to and during the event. This can serve as a reference for future events.
  • Follow-up Plan:
    • Outline a follow-up plan for addressing action items and implementing improvements for future events. Assign responsibilities and set timelines.
  • Archive Documentation:
    • Safely archive all event-related documentation for future reference. This can include both physical copies and digital files. 

Feedback and Lessons Learned:

  • Collect feedback from team members and attendees to identify what went well and what could be improved.
  • Feedback Collection:
    • Surveys and Questionnaires: Prepare post-event surveys with targeted questions to gather feedback from attendees, staff, vendors and other stakeholders.
    • Direct Feedback Channels: Provide attendees with avenues to provide direct feedback through email, social media, or a dedicated feedback form on the event website.
    • Feedback from Staff and Volunteers: Seek input from event staff, volunteers and contractors who played a role in the event execution.
  • Analyze Feedback
    • Categorize Feedback: Organize feedback into categories such as logistics, program content, facilities, communication and overall experience.
    • Identify Trends: Look for recurring themes or patterns in the feedback. Identify both positive aspects and areas for improvement.
  • Lessons Learned Session:
    • Conduct a Debriefing Session: Hold a dedicated meeting or session with key stakeholders to discuss the event and gather insights.
    • Review Feedback: Share the feedback received and discuss the implications for future events.
  • Document Feedback and Lessons:
    • Create a Feedback Report: Summarize the feedback received and document specific comments, suggestions, and observations.
    • Highlight Key Takeaways: Identify the most significant lessons learned and best practices that emerged from the feedback.
  • Action Planning:
    • Prioritize Action Items: Identify actionable items based on the feedback and lessons learned. Prioritize them based on impact and feasibility.
    • Assign responsibilities: Assign responsible parties for each action item to ensure accountability.
    • Set Timelines: Establish realistic timelines for implementing the identified improvements.
  • Implement Changes:
    • Incorporate Feedback into Future Events: Use the lessons learned to inform planning, logistics and execution for future events.
    • Adjust processes and Procedures: Modify event planning procedures, checklists and protocols based on the feedback received.
  • Communication and Transparency:
    • Share Feedback and Changes: Communicate the feedback received and the changes implemented to all relevant stakeholders, including attendees, staff and partners.
  • Monitor and Evaluate:
    • Track Progress: Regularly monitor the progress of the action items and evaluate their effectiveness in subsequent events.
    • Reassess and Adapt: Be open to making further adjustments based on ongoing feedback and evolving circumstances.
  • Celebrate Successes:
    • Acknowledge Achievements: Recognize and celebrate the successes and improvements achieved because of incorporating feedback and lessons learned. 
  • Continuous Improvement Culture:
    • Encourage a Culture of Feedback: Foster an environment where feedback is actively sought and valued, not just after events, but throughout the planning process.
    • Iterative process: Treat feedback and lessons learned as part of an ongoing, iterative process for event planning and execution.

Review and Update:

By conducting a thorough post-event review and update, organizers can ensure that each event is a safer, more successful experience for all involved. This repetitive process of improvement helps to raise the quality of events over time.

  • Review and update emergency plans based on the lessons learned from the event.
  • Communicate Changes to Stakeholders:
    • Share the feedback received and the changes implemented with all relevant stakeholders, including attendees, staff and partners.


This checklist serves as a general guideline.

It's important to customize it based on the specific nature of the event, the location and any unique risks associated with the venue. 
Regular training and drills are also crucial to ensure the team is well-prepared to handle emergencies effectively.

Not all of your event planning is included within the Event Emergency Action Plan as there may be other other areas that need to be contacted.  

  • University Police Department: Security Plan
  • Parking Services: Parking lot reservations and planning.
  • Alcohol: Permit application through Presidents office and UPD.
  • Youth Minor Program: Office of Academic Affairs - Camps and conferences Handbook
  • Facilities and Services: Usage of equipment and installation of tents and such.
  • Off-Campus Emergency Services: There is forms to request an ambulance on site for your event as well the Fire Department. Please contact Emergency Management for these directions.