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Public Event Security: How To Prepare For An Active Shooter

The news of mass shootings has become a far too frequent trend in society. The terror attack on citizens in France, and most recently the nightclub mass shooting in Orlando are examples that public event venues are vulnerable to acts of life-threatening violence. After such incidents the issue of public event security has gained national attention. How can public venues prepare against active shooter attacks? This blog presents a profile of active shooters, an assessment on their weapons of choice, and a guide to prepare an Emergency Plan of Action against active shooters.

What Is The Profile Of An Active Shooter?

According to the Department of Homeland Security

    • An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.
    • Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Active shooter situations often last 10 to 15 minutes and are over before law enforcement has time to arrive on the scene. Mitigating the possibilities of an active shooter situation requires that individuals be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with unexpected acts of violence.

The Weapon Of Choice For Active Shooters

The Orlando shooter used a Sig Sauer AR-15 rifle, a weapon that has been used by many active shooters in the past. The AR-15 rifle was developed by former Marine Eugene Stoner in the 1950s and initially sold through ArmaLIte, a California start-up company. AR-15-style rifles come in many shapes and sizes. They are popular with gun enthusiasts due to their high capacity for ammo and the fact that they can be easily modified with add-ons such as silencers.

The Risks To Public Event Venues

There are many risks that go into planning a public event. The following are risks all venue owners and event planners should take into consideration:

Location– Is the public event located in an area with a high crime rate? Is it located in an area that sees a lot of traffic? Knowing the answer to these questions can help to gauge the amount of security staff needed and whether to use armed or unarmed guards for a public event.

Entrance Screening– Is there someone to screen patrons as they enter? Hired security staff should be stationed at the entrance and depending on the risk factor of the event, patrons might be asked to present the contents of any backpacks or purses before they’re granted access into the venue. Depending on the budget security guards can take the lead on entrance screening. When checking bags fails to stop an active shooter from bringing a firearm into the event, properly trained security staff will know how to react during an active shooter attack and how to direct a crowd during an attack.

Number of Attendees– Will the event have 100 or 1,000 or more patrons? Screening thousands of people can be a challenge no matter the amount of staff. A rule of thumb for hiring security staff for events is to have at least 1 guard per 100 patrons in addition to the guards surveying points of access and egress. Metal detectors can be an effective way to screen for weapons and speed up entrance to the public. Metal detectors can be expensive, but it’s an investment that could save the lives of your patrons.

Event Monitoring– Depending on the size of the crowds or the value of the equipment, a single public event may require camera surveillance. If there will not be camera surveillance then security guards will need to be used.

How To Prepare For An Active Shooter

Emergency Action Plan (EAP) – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommends training your staff for an active shooter situation and having an EAP in place. An EAP consists of:

      • A preferred method for the reporting of fires and various emergencies
      • An evacuation policy and procedure
      • Detailed emergency escape procedures and route assignments (escape routes, floor plans, safe areas)
      • Contact information for individuals to be contacted under the EAP, including their responsibilities
      • Information about local area hospitals (name, phone number, and distance from your event)
      • An emergency notification system (this can include email or text message) to alert various parties of an emergency including:
        • Individuals at remote locations within premises
        • Local law enforcement
        • Local area hospitals

Additional Ways To Prepare For And Prevent An Active Shooter Situation

    • Ensure that your facility has at least two evacuation routes
    • Post evacuation routes at various locations throughout your facility
    • Include local law enforcement and first responders during training exercises
    • Encourage law enforcement, emergency responders, and bomb squads to train for an active shooter scenario at your location

For more information on creating an EAP contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, www.osha.gov. Visit our website to learn more about our security services or contact us at 305.418.9214.

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