Preparing for the Unthinkable


In light of the recent mass shootings at a Texas church that killed 26 and the Las Vegas concert attack that killed 58, event planners must reconsider their safety plans, and what they’re doing to tighten security amidst such horror.

“Event organizers have a responsibility to create safe havens for all of our attendees. In doing so, an appropriate safety and security overlay is important,” says Peter Ashwin, principal behind Event Risk Management Solutions—a company that provides security-consulting services. “While I appreciate that there are members of our communities who wish to exercise their rights, the open carry of firearms at an event is intimidating to other attendees and increases the potential risk of accidental or intentional use of firearms.”

Many security companies that provide support to events are starting to more heavily focus on protection against gunmen as it becomes more prevalent throughout the country and world.

“The major thing we deal with now is active shooters,” says Mike Mlady, president and co-owner of AF Services Inc., an Illinois-based security and ushering service provider. “It’s a hot topic. Some convention centers throughout the country do not have anyone armed in the facility, so, depending on what the event is, I’ve recommended they have at least one armed person.”

It’s a sad reality, but event planners need to be even more aware of the unthinkable. In today’s world, it’s critical to be prepared for everything—even those things you don’t think could happen.

So, how can you prepare yourself against the possibility of an active shooter? Create an Emergency Action Plan with the below components:

  • A preferred method for the reporting of fires and other emergencies
  • An evacuation policy and procedure
  • Detailed emergency escape methods and route assignments such as escape routes and safe areas
  • Contact information for individuals who need to be contacted in the event of an emergency and a list of their responsibilities
  • Information about local area hospitals
  • An emergency communication system that details how and when to notify individuals at remote locations of the event, local law enforcement and local hospitals.

Other preparedness ideas:

  • Make sure your venue has at least two evacuation routes
  • Post these routes in a number of locations around the facility
  • If you host training exercises (which is encouraged) include law enforcement and first responders
  • Encourage law enforcement, emergency responders and bomb squads to train for an active shooter scenario at your event