Special Event Emergency Planning


Not every planned special event runs as scheduled. Some incidents occur that are beyond our control. To ensure the safety of our community and visitors, each of us has the responsibility to protect and minimize the impacts of an emergency at a planned special event. The three key elements of emergency management are Plan, Evaluate, Respond.

Download this fillable PDF planning guide to help develop your plan.

The Emergency Response at Yale guide is a another resource you can use to help develop your plan.


If an incident occurs on campus that has the potential to affect the safety of the people on campus, the University will use Yale ALERT and other means of communications to advise you of the incident and provide you with instructions (such as “shelter in place” or “evacuate”).

At least one person on the event-management team should save the Yale ALERT number (203- 432-5830) and have his or her phone on during the event. This is especially important if the event has non-Yale people in attendance who are not in the Yale ALERT system. If a Yale ALERT is sent, tell your audience exactly what the message says and follow the directions provided.

If you are not registered to receive Yale ALERTS,  go to the Yale ALERT website and follow the directions provided.

Evacuation: You may be asked to evacuate for a number of reasons, including fire, fire alarm, flooding power outage etc. Designate a primary and secondary assembly location.

Shelter-in-Place: Review the shelter in place guidelines. Walk through your venue and based on your location and the numbers of attendee, determine what your shelter in place plan is.

Unwanted Guest Procedure: Create a code word that is to be used to advise others that there is an unwanted person at your event.

Ask your leadership team to watch the Yale active shooter video and consider what other preparedness steps you should take if you are confronted with a dangerous situation.

Who else needs to know about your plan? (also email your plan to: oem@yale.edu)

Who will need to be notified of an emergency at your location?

Conduct a pre-event briefing among managers, staff, volunteers, ushers, and others. Review the following:

  • Details of the venue, including entrances and exits, number of people attending, and specific information about the audience/attendees (ages, special needs etc).
  • Evacuation and shelter-in-place plans.
  • Code Word.
  • Clear direction on unacceptable behavior.
  • Potential weather issues.  If inclement weather is expected, assign someone to monitor it. Determine a communications structure for severe weather or tornado warnings. Also, determine who may need assistance evacuating and who may assist them (adults with children, or the elderly).
  • Details on emergency communications plans (e.g., if a Yale ALERT or weather alert is issued, who receives and or disseminates that information).
  • Details on medical plans (if an attendee gets sick). Location of first aid kit:____________________


  • Is the incident at your location?  If so, what is the emergency and what type of help do you need?
  • How do you communicate with the event guests?
  • Is the incident elsewhere on campus? If so, who will communicate with the guests about the incident?


  1. If the incident is at your location, call Yale Police at 911 or 203-432-4400, or by using a campus Blue Phone once it is safe to do so.
  2. Arrange for a member of the staff to meet the Police or ambulance at the main entrance and escort them to the location of the incident.
  3. If you receive a Yale Alert of an incident elsewhere on campus, you may be the person delivering the message to your audience. If that is the case:
  • Stay calm.
  • Be assertive.
  • Be honest and empathetic about the situation.
  • Give the audience as much information as possible, but do not overwhelm them with details.
  • Let them know when you will be communicating again.
  • Try to manage their expectations.

*Planning discussion necessary by your department, unit, college, or school