The Academy for Venue Safety & Security (AVSS) will take place February 23-27 in Dallas, and it offers professionals in the venue industry intensive training in security planning and life safety management. We recently spoke with Russ Simons—chief listening officer and managing partner at Venue Solutions Group—a safety and security expert and former teacher at the academy to learn more about the training and why it’s important for your career in the industry.
When it comes to venue safety, do venue managers need AVSS even if their venue already has a preparedness plan in place?
Venue managers absolutely need to continue take advantage of AVSS. Venue safety, security, and risk management is not static. It is a constantly evolving environment with rapidly changing conditions. There are several benefits, which include a comprehensive understanding of what has happened before and how to look forward to identify and prepare for what is coming next. In addition, the benefit of the network of AVSS instructors and attendees create a vehicle to get information and support going forward.
What is the most surprising thing you see venues doing or not doing when it comes to keeping guests safe?
Complacency! In today’s world, I cannot understand how facility managers and organizations can justify becoming complacent in the areas of venue safety, security, and risk management. The concept of “it cannot happen to me” has a tendency to creep into an organization’s culture. To put this into a sports perspective, we need to play like we are behind, play scared, and prepare every day as if it will happen. There is a direct benefit to this kind of thinking—when you prepare in this manner, then you and your staff will be prepared for anything that occurs.
What AVSS curriculum segment is your specialty?
I no longer teach at AVSS regularly. When I return from time to time, I focus on bringing it all together. This would be a very direct presentation on how what the class has learned represents the challenges that their counterparts in the venue industry face every day. In addition, when I can I like to focus on codes. A great many people in our industry are not aware of their code responsibilities and how important it is to manage and operate within the rules and obligations that are set out in national, state, and local regulations.
What does your venue team use every day that comes directly from your AVSS experience?
I no longer manage a facility on a day-to-day basis; however, I work in a different facility type most every day. This gives me great perspective on what the different facilities do. I can say without reservation that the information and experience gained at AVSS is important for every facility type and is useful every day.
What is one of your most interesting stories or incidents from your venue experience that is safety related, and how did you handle it?
Fortunately or unfortunately, I have had almost every bad thing happen to me as a facility manager. In an effort to offer something helpful, I learned early on that when someone is hurt and injured the natural human reaction is for people to gather around and look. I had a stagehand fall while the lights were still up in full view of the crowd. In an effort to protect the individual, I created a staff cordon around the injured individual facing outward. I was in a facility recently where a person was injured on a public concourse during an event, and there were several“well intentioned” staff members responding but no one took control, managed the concourse traffic flow around the incident, or protected the view to the inured party. This is something that can be emphasized in supervisor and staff training.
Register today for AVSS, and learn from some of the best safety and security experts, like Russ, in the venue industry.