Charged with ensuring the well-being of all YOUtopia’s participants, as well as that of the event site and our hosts, the Safety Hub monitors most aspects of physical and environmental safety at the event, as well as pre- and post-event. The Hub Lead is tasked with creating and maintaining documentation, including policies and enforcement procedures, under the supervision of the event producers and SDCAP. The Safety Hub creates and enacts training for all YOUtopia leads in emergency event operations and radio protocols.
The Safety hub has 5 departments:
1. Fire Safety (led by Keno and Nero) is tasked with fire prevention and education at the event. They order, place, and monitor fire extinguishers around the site, inspect and authorize the use of fire in art and performance pieces, and act as liaisons with the tribal or local fire authorities. The Fire Safety team reports all fire related incidents to the Safety Hub for documentation purposes.
2. The Waldos team (led by Pauldo and Orion) acts as the front line for participant emergency communications needs. They man clearly identifiable stations to provide instant radio access for participants in need of emergency services. The Waldos act as extra eyes and ears in locations where incidents are common. They can secondarily provide general information such as directions or assistance in finding help with issues surrounding placement, noise complaints, or other such problems that can be solved in total or in part through radio communications.
3. The Rangers team (led by Heaven, Schutte and Fawn) serves as a conflict management and observation team, walking the event and providing neutral intervention when necessary in participant interactions. They serve as one of the incident reporting teams which serves as the required first step in certain protocols, such as eviction from the event (the other possible source of such reports is the security team, detailed below). Rangers assist with total event observation, relaying to security, fire, or the medical/harm reduction team as needed.
4. Security is provided through a contract with an outside vendor, High Rock Security. Our security team, while generally not present for other team trainings, works in cooperation with all other departments within the Safety Hub to provide services that are beyond the scope of our volunteers, such as intruder apprehensions, participant evictions or detentions for outside law enforcement, perimeter guarding, and other duties as determined pre-event or on-site.
5. Medical is provided through a contract with an outside vendor, RGX Medical. Our medical team, while generally not present for other team trainings, works in cooperation with all other departments within the Safety Hub to provide services that are beyond the scope of our volunteers, such as first aid and emergency medical response.
What did we do incredibly well this year?
Working as a cohesive team is such an important part of the success of the Safety Hub. Hub Lead meetings and group trainings help keep us all on the same page and prepared to deal with whatever comes up when we are on-site. Maintaining open communications between the Hub Lead and the Department Leads aids in this process as well. Planning for time off when on site contributed to a greatly reduced stress level this year as well. This year saw a reduction in reported incidents of nearly 80% (10 reported safety/security based incidents this year versus 46 last year). Reassignment of some security positions to coverage by Waldo’s stations resulted in smoother operations in those areas, as well as a reduction in the cost of our security contract.
What could we do better next year?
Logistics in general were a challenge for the hub. The “hit the ground running” nature of the department makes set up of the HQ and monitoring and control of the logistical items dispensed to Safety difficult. Despite setting up the HQ so that there was a closed, private back area, the area was not well monitored, and items were removed from or deposited in the space without any real oversight. This issue was never fully addressed this year, but suggestions for future years include an alteration of the set-up of the HQ area so that access to the closed off portion goes only THROUGH the open, public portion (rather than a separate side entrance, as we had this year) and/or a more consistent presence IN the Safety HQ (possibly including it as an 8th Waldos station) to more closely monitor comings and goings. An additional issue that we faced this year was a lack of consistency in reporting procedures. Each team had a different process for reporting incidents to the Safety Hub lead. A more coherent system should be developed that provides consistent reporting to the Hub lead, while still allowing for the different operational structures of each department.