STAGES Emergency Response

The overall department and individual emergency response plans will start with the USF Emergency Response Plan. Additional information on emergency response planning can be found at your Public Safety and Emergency Response web pages and from your Environmental Safety Officer. These plans will define the procedures for responding to a variety of emergency situations. Review the campus Emergency Response plans to identify department duties and responsibilities. Then develop department and venue-specific emergency response procedures and business continuity procedures. Ensure incident investigation procedures are included in each plan.


Identify and Assign Duties

Assign duties based on level of responsibility and skill set. Ensure those placed in charge have the authority to carry out their assigned duties. Will what is happening in the building and who is present change who is in charge? Consider building conditions and staff during classes, production preparations, rehearsals, and performances. Ensure emergency response duties are specified in job duty descriptions. Ensure those persons assigned emergency response duties receive initial and on-going training in regard to their duties and the emergency procedures. Develop site specific plans for each venue that are compliant with and compatible with the campus’s overarching Emergency Response Plan. Each plan should address evacuation procedures, shelter-in-place procedures, and the response duties of site personnel. 


Emergencies Requiring Evacuation 

Some aspects of evacuation planning will apply to all venues, such as:

  • • Evacuation Duties – Front-of-house personnel are responsible for assisting patrons in safely evacuating the venue. Stage management personnel are responsible for assisting performers and crew in safely evacuating the venue. Instructors are responsible for evacuating students.

  • • Evacuation Announcement Procedures – Define how the patrons, performers, and crew will be informed of the need to evacuate, and specify who is responsible for making the announcement when an announcement is necessary.

Other aspects of evacuation planning will be specific to the venue, such as:

  1. Exit Routes – Ensure site personnel and those assisting patrons to evacuate know:

  • a. The primary and secondary exit routes from all areas of the venue.

  • b. The location of hazardous materials storage areas and that they should evacuate away from these areas. Remember, never store hazardous materials in or near an exit or exit pathway.

  • c. The accessible evacuation routes and the areas of refuge where evacuees unable to exit can shelter in place until assistance can arrive.

  1. Assembly Areas and Sites – Ensure site personnel and those assisting patrons to evacuate know where to assemble after leaving the building. Ensure the location for each assembly area or site is out of the anticipated path of emergency responders and away from the venue or other structures or conditions that may present a hazard as a result of the event that generated the need to evacuate. As an example, another building would not be an acceptable assembly site in cases of earthquake.

  2. Visible Evacuation Maps – Ensure evacuation maps are posted and kept visible at all times.

Shelter-in-Place Emergencies

Some emergency situations may require performers, crew, and patrons to shelter in place, such as severe weather events, power outages, or active shooter on campus situations. Determine how the facilities will be secured and where personnel and patrons will be gathered to shelter them from hazards, such as shattering glass. Ensure items such as water and restroom facilities can be safely accessed within or from the sheltering place.


Fire Emergencies

In case of fire, 

  1. Immediately call 9-1-1. Report the exact location of the fire.

  2. Activate the fire alarm.

  3. Evacuate the building. Only Fire Department personnel are trained, equipped, and required to fight fires.

  4. Activate the fire curtain and Fire doors. In some cases, this involves cutting ropes and physically pulling apart wire s-hooks. Make sure you know where they are and have the tools necessary to activate.  

  • Secondary evacuation routes are necessary in case the emergency event obstructs access to the primary exit.

  •  An assembly area is an area located outside of the building. An assembly site is a nearby building that is safe to use as a shelter from the weather and other elements. release to drop the fire curtain.

  1. Close doors after each area/room is evacuated. 

  2. Go immediately to the assigned assembly area.

  3. Wait in the assembly area until further directions are given.

  4. Never re-enter the building until permitted to do so by Fire Department personnel.

  5. After each fire incident is controlled, investigate the incident to determine the causes of the incident and the results of the response actions, and take corrective action to prevent a recurrence of the incident and improve incident responses.

An attempt may be made to extinguish a fire ONLY if:

  1. You have been trained in the proper use of a fire extinguisher.

  2. It is a small incipient fire involving simple combustibles, such as wood or paper. Never attempt to extinguish hazardous materials, electronics, or equipment.

  3. The fire is extinguished within 10 seconds; after that you must evacuate the building.

Chemical Spill Emergencies

All personnel who work with hazardous chemicals or work in an area where hazardous chemicals are used or stored need to be informed of what steps to take in case of a chemical spill. Not all chemical spills require a call-out of the hazmat team. Contact your campus EH&S personnel to determine the specific steps to take for chemical spills on your campus. Work with campus EH&S personnel to determine if performing arts personnel can be trained and authorized to clean up some small spills. Ensure spill containment materials are properly maintained within the shops and areas where hazardous chemicals are used and/or stored.


Chemical Exposure Emergencies

Chemical exposure may occur through contact with skin or eyes, inhalation, or ingestion. Each type of exposure requires a different response. After the exposure incident is controlled, investigate the exposure incident to determine the causes of the incident and the results of the response, and take corrective action to prevent a recurrence.


Contact with Eyes

  1. Immediately flush the eyes using the emergency eyewash station or available sink

  2. Never wait to remove contact lenses.

  3. Keep your eyes in contact with the running water for at least 15 minutes.

  4. Seek immediate medical attention.

  5. Provide a copy of the chemical’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to medical personnel.

Contact with Skin

  1. Immediately flush your skin in running water.

  2. Remove jewelry and contaminated clothing while you are rinsing.

  3. Seek medical attention for chemical burns.

  4. Provide a copy of the chemical’s SDS to medical personnel.


  1. Immediately leave the room and seek fresh air.

  2. Immediately remove anyone overcome by vapors to fresh air.

  3. Leave the door open as you exit to ventilate the room.

  4. Provide first aid to persons overcome and call 9-1-1 for medical assistance if the person has lost consciousness.

  5. Seek medical attention if your symptoms do not subside.

  6. Provide a copy of the chemical’s SDS to medical personnel.


  1. Reduce the risk of ingestion by refraining from eating, drinking, preparing, or serving food or beverages in areas where chemicals are used or stored.

  2. Seek medical attention for ingestion incidents.

  3. Provide a copy of the chemical’s SDS to medical personnel.

Power Outage Emergencies

Trip and fall incidents increase in a power outage due to people trying to move around in the dark. In facilities equipped with backup generators, the lights are back on within minutes. For those facilities that are not equipped with a backup generator or if the generator does not function properly:

  • 1. Stay put if there is no imminent danger.

  • 2. Wait for direction from front-of-house or stage management personnel.

  • 3. Call Facilities Services to report the outage.

  • 4. Proceed with care to an area lit with emergency lighting if the emergency generator does not activate after five minutes.

  • 5. Use your cell phone as a light source if you do not have access to a flashlight.

  • 6. Turn off all computer, equipment, appliances, and lights to reduce the risk of damage from a power surge when the power is restored.

Medical Emergencies

  1. Immediately provide first aid for minor injuries using universal precautions to reduce the risk of transmitting bloodborne pathogens. Universal precautions include:

  • a. Allow the injured person to clean, bandage, and/or apply pressure to wounds if he or she is able.

  • b. Wear latex gloves.

  • c. Wear safety a CPR mask when administering CPR.

  • d. Wash your hands with soap and water after removing the gloves.

  1. 2. Summon emergency medical services by dialing 9-1-1 for serious injuries. Examples of serious injuries include: 

  • a. Head injuries

  • b. Unconsciousness

  • c. Heart attack or symptoms of heart attack

  • d. Stoke

  • e. Deep wounds

  • f. Not breathing

  • g. Broken bones

  1. 3. Use the automated external defibrillator (AED) (if one is available) in accordance with the instructions and any training you have received.

  2. 4. Notify the person in charge immediately for injuries and illnesses that are not minor. Post personnel along the route from the building entry to the injured person to assist the prompt arrival of emergency medical personnel.

  3. 5. Begin the gathering of information for the investigation as soon as the injured or ill person’s medical needs are met.

  4. 6. Report the incident to the Risk Management Department.


Conduct documented emergency response training for all new crew members, performers (including visiting performers), students, and front-of-house personnel, including volunteers and temporary employees. Ensure all personnel understand their responsibilities and duties in each type of anticipated emergency. Provide front-of- house and backstage personnel with first aid, CPR, and AED training in addition to the other emergency response duties. Conduct training at least annually for all permanent personnel. Conduct training whenever the procedures change.


Practice Drills

Conduct documented emergency drills. These can be conducted in various scales from table top to campus-wide events. Invite students to be the audience and practice evacuations during dress rehearsals. Track and record the time it takes to evacuate the building or respond to an emergency. Conduct reviews of drills to identify what improvements are needed.

Remember there are campus resources available to assist you. Contact Environmental Safety, Risk Management, Fire, Police, Campus Emergency Management with your questions and requests for guidance.


Everyday Preparation

Being prepared to respond to emergency situations takes preparation as stated in the prior sections, but it also takes vigilance each day to ensure basic fire and life safety is maintained. As you go about your everyday activities and especially during times of chaotic activity:

  1. Ensure fire exits, aisles, and exit pathways are clear and accessible.

  2. Ensure exit doors are clear of obstructions on both sides of the door.

  3. Report to the Physical Plant Department any exit signs or emergency lights that are not functioning.

  4. Ensure fire extinguishers are properly hung (extinguishers greater than 40 pounds in weight may be mounted on a cart), the seal is intact, and the indicator gauges are in the green zone. Immediately report any fire extinguishers that do not meet these criteria to the Physical Plant Department.

  5. Ensure all fire-fighting equipment is clear of obstructions and accessible; this equipment includes fire extinguishers, fire hose stations, fire pull stations, fire suppression sprinkler heads, and fire sprinkler risers.

  6. Ensure flammable and combustible materials are properly stored and protected from ignition sources.

  7. Ensure compressed gases are secured to prevent them from falling or being knocked over.

  8. Ensure electrical panels are clear of obstructions and accessible.

  9. Ensure the doors of electrical panels are closed.

  10. Ensure extension cords are not used in place of permanent wiring

  11. Take immediate action to correct any non-compliant conditions.