Special Event Emergency Plans, or SEEPs as they are more commonly known, are deepening the culture of preparedness and safety at Virginia Tech by equipping campus event organizers with a vital emergency management planning framework to help keep event attendees safe.

Coordinated by Virginia Tech Emergency Management, a SEEP is a formal written plan created by an event organizer that identifies potential emergency conditions at an event site and lays out procedures that need to be followed to increase preparedness, minimize risk, and prevent injury.

The scope of the event, potential risks to participants, impact to the community, any extra support needed, a map with proper markings, weather monitoring, and leadership contact information are just a few important factors to consider while crafting a SEEP. Refer to the SEEP site for a complete list of SEEP components.

While large-scale events, such as spring and fall graduation ceremonies, have university-coordinated emergency plans in place, the SEEPs program aims to engage organizers of smaller on-campus events to think ahead and develop their own emergency preparedness plans for events. This also enables event organizers to gain hands-on emergency planning skills that will serve them throughout their careers.

The end goal for the SEEPs program is to make emergency preparedness an integral part of event planning.

When it comes to SEEPs, the goals for Emergency Coordinator Elvis Rosario are quite simple, “We want to get people thinking about the ‘what-ifs,’ about preparedness, and about emergency action planning. An emergency can happen at any time,” Rosario said.

The process is really catching on, too. In 2019, 37 SEEPs were submitted and approved for events with an estimated total of over 73,000 attendees.

Virginia Tech Emergency Management recommends that the entire team planning the event be knowledgeable of their event’s SEEP. 

What types of events should have a SEEP?

Special events are not necessarily defined by the amount of people in attendance. Rather, the importance is placed on the university’s ability to respond to a large-scale emergency that may occur during the event. Some examples of events that need a SEEP:

  • Occurring outside with 250 or more attendees.
  • With an estimated participation of 1,000 or more attendees.
  • That includes a majority of participants or attendees outside of the Virginia Tech community.
  • Events that have the potential to disrupt normal operation of the university.
  • Events that anticipate minors to participate.
  • Events categorized as a conference.
  • Events scheduled to occur overnight in a nonresidential building.

“If all special events had SEEPs, it would be right in line with our mission. Overall, this program makes the university more resilient and makes events safer if everyone knows the plan ahead of time,” Rosario said.  

To further expand event emergency preparedness efforts, Emergency Management has a supply of two-way radios available for loan to Virginia Tech community groups hosting events. To learn more and request radio support for a special event, visit the Radio Program site.

Last year, there were 39 radio requests from event organizers, and Emergency Management hopes more campus organizations will take advantage of this resource.

Planning an upcoming event? Emergency Management asks event organizers to complete the SEEP form. Event organizers are encouraged to contact the Emergency Management team with any questions by calling 540-231-4873 or emailing oem@vt.edu.

- Written by Christy Myers


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