OSU Game Day Operations Case Study
BACKGROUND: With over 100,000 spectators within the stadium, and thousands more outside, safety and response operations for OSU home football games is a team effort. The planning process is nearly year round and the cooperation among dozens of agencies makes OSU home football games a truly unique and successful operation. Bob Armstrong dives into the details of what brings partners to the planning table and how operations on game day can be streamlined to best serve all agencies involved.
OBJECTIVE: Explain the processes and coordination among partnering agencies for public safety during an Ohio State home football game.
CHALLENGES: Communication and coordination between dozens of different agencies is challenging even for planned events. Aligning objectives when agencies have different goals in order to accomplish the overall desired outcome of a safe game day requires buy-in from all organizational leadership. Speaking the same jargon, using common communication conduits and coordinating operations is tasking for an event this size. Furthermore, having an effective evacuation plan for the stadium provides numerous challenges with a crowd over 100,000 and thousands more outside the stadium.
SOLUTIONS: To get buy-in from agencies, the planning process for OSU game day is nearly a year long cycle. OSU hosts leadership from all agencies to incorporate feedback and improvements before making any needed adjustments. The coordination on the actual game day is assisted by OSU Emergency Management opening up its Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Agencies are invited to have a representative sit in the EOC which helps operations run through one place more smoothly. Any support, requests for resources or change of operations can be funneled through the EOC to ensure needed agencies are properly informed. Evacuation plans at OSU call for shelter-in-place when possible, incorporate pre-designated evacuation spots for university leadership, and hold an annual training for stadium ushers who act as a the catalysts for evacuations.
TAKEAWAYS: After meeting with Bob and being able to see the OSU game day operations first hand, it is a truly impressive operation that incorporates the best parts of agency partnership and Incident Command System.
- Having all agencies at the planning table is essential for buy-in. Bob and OSU Emergency Management do a great job of including all partners in the planning process, from the health department to the public transit authority. Not all agencies may have an active hand in all operations and their input may be limited. However, being at the initial face-to-face meetings shows the partner is valued and their input is needed. Actions speak louder than words, and simply meeting with all partners early on in the planning process can be worth dividends down the road in obtaining agency buy-in.
Drew Downing, MPH