Response Considerations: Incidents Involving Crowds During COVID-19 Pandemic

This guidance details nine response considerations meant to address potential gaps urban, suburban, rural departments may encounter when responding to incidents involving mass gatherings and large crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim is not to develop new policies, rather, to provide useful guidance to prepare for and address the unique challenges presented in the climate of a pandemic.


  1. Maintain situational awareness.
  2. Unified command is the recommended framework for developing comprehensive incident objetives and strategies.
  3. Provide unified messaging and consider developing a crisis communications plan.
  4. Adhere to social distancing guidelines at all incident locations, including the incident command post (ICP), staging areas and treatment areas.
  5. A safety officer should be assigned to review the IAP for safety implications, develop a medical plan, monitor social distancing and PPE practices, present safety messages, and suggest adjustments as needed to prevent unsafe acts.
  6. Identify unsafe areas during mass gatherings and incidents involving large crowds.
  7. Consider needed adjustments to rescue task force (RTF) operations.
  8. Ensure that emergency/gross decontamination provisions for first responders are in place that harmonize with the guidance of departmental and public health authorities.
  9. Avoid developing guidelines that depart from or that are not in harmony with existing national and local policy and directives (includes links to examples).

Graphics: Most commonly protested issues in rural and urban U.S. counties

Checklist and graphic: Command considerations

  • Topics:
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    • Featured Home (IAFC)
    • Featured Safety & Health
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    • Safety & Health
    • Large-Scale Response
    • Epidemics/Emerging Diseases
    • EMS
    • Department Administration
    • COVID-19
  • Resource Type:
    • Guide/ toolkit/ template
  • Organizational Author:
    • IAFC
    • Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee

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