Planning keeps Sumfest patrons safe -- Security Manager

July 13, 2017
Robin Russell (left) has Digicel's Olive Lawson (right) and Olivia Tate.

The incident-free nature of Reggae Sumfest is no coincidence. This is according to its security manager Robin Russell.

"Every year has its own unique issues, but what we have been able to do throughout the years is know what these issues are beforehand and put plans in place to know how to deal with them. Each year, it's something new, but not necessarily different, and we've been able to put plans in place to make it happen," Russell told THE STAR.

Reggae Sumfest, which is celebrating 25 years, starts on Sunday with a beach party and ends next Saturday with the second of two nights of stage shows.

Russell began his career as a crew member on the festival's production team, before working his way into security. Now, he is charged with leading the security team in keeping the peace, as well as reacting to other health and safety issues that may arise.

"We pride ourselves with the reputation of securing vehicles and patrons having a safe show. We work for that and look forward to the show finishing on that note again."

Though he has been a part of the Sumfest team for two decades, the demands of the job do not always afford Russell the opportunity to enjoy the performances.

"I don't get the opportunity to see many acts, or be involved enough to enjoy the show, because I'm all over the place," he said.

One of Russell's outstanding memories occurred when one international act was all over the place.

"It was Akon's performance. He went out from the stage. It was definitely memorable, how he performed," Russell shared.

Akon's exuberance posed no issue for the security team. Russell hails the collaborative support of various health and safety officials, achieved through detailed communication before, during and after the show.

"Planning is what makes us most effective; to not walk into the show and be surprised. We plan weeks, sometimes months before the show. We need the full cooperation of the entire security team. Their input is what makes the emergency plan work," he told THE STAR.

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