When you're planning an event that utilizes roads for the majority of the scheduled activities (i.e. parades, processions, street festivals, runs / walks, etc.), there can be an overwhelming number of safety considerations to be made and permits to be obtained.
The first place to start is with your local government, be it a city, county, municipality, etc. Chances are, your event is not the first of its type they have dealt with and they will have rules and helpful information for you.
Rules Come First
Of course, you'll need to abide by all the rules they have in place. Almost every local government is going to have a risk management system, so their rules will be pretty specific, sometimes more than you imagine. For example, a city in Kansas, U.S.A., requires a parade permit if you want to take a horse-drawn carriage from your wedding site to the reception site. Don't be discouraged by the rules – they all have safety reasons behind them. If your local government has an events application to fill out, carefully answer each question with as much background information as possible. Do this as early as possible so that there's time to make changes should any red flags or objections be raised.
The Helpful Part
Hopefully you won't get a bureaucrat, but will actually deal with someone who can be a big assistance to you. Oftentimes, the government will even have a special events team they can call together, such as police, fire department, emergency medical services (EMS), and you can get a lot of the details addressed in one meeting. They will review all rules on where barricades must go, where police might be needed to control / redirect traffic, where to station EMS, and where security may be needed for crowd control. They will also offer advice on where you can use volunteers to control corners where traffic is sparse. Prepare for your meeting with the special events team by having an estimate of the number of event day volunteers and attendees, and a site plan ready to show them along with your proposed lay-out. While some of the requirements may seem frustrating, remember that these officials want to help you succeed in ensuring the safety of event participants, pedestrians and motorists.
Get Plenty of Volunteers
After taking care of all the rules, it's good to plan to enlist more volunteers than you think you'll need. It's always better to have a few too many than not enough.
Assign some volunteers to take care of waste management. This is imporant from a safety standpoint to prevent any tripping hazards, but also to maintain a clean environment. Then, don't forget to assign volunteers to help provide traffic marshalling, or security in some circumstances.
When putting volunteers out on the road, always pair two or more volunteers at each location, whether it be a corner or water station. This is an important safety issue as something could happen to a solo volunteer and no one would know about it. Also, make sure you have a good communication system with those volunteers. They need to know when the first participants are coming their way and when the last has passed. You don't want them packing up and leaving when participants are still headed their way.
In the end, the key is to a) give yourself plenty of time to get through all the hoops, b) get the support you need to consider every angle, and c) have staff and volunteers filling all of the most important roles so that the show can go on.
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