Ask the Expert: Event Security 101

By Marc Boisclair, September 11, 2018

How are hoteliers and venue operators like convention centers doing in terms of educating both their clients and own staffers about better security practices?  

In many cases, I see their leadership explaining the need for best practices. They are recognizing everyone has a role and responsibility for emergency preparedness, and have developed an emergency command staff for better incident management and protocols that are more effective for incident response than they were say 10 or 20 years ago.

What’s the hardest part about implementing an emergency preparedness plan?

Getting started. Keep your plan simple and straight forward, easy to read and comprehend. Don’t borrow another venue’s plan, change the title and name and call it yours. You will have not thought about it enough to know from memory what to do when the time for response actions comes. When you think you’re done, get ownership and stakeholder approval and share and communicate it as appropriate, where there’s a need to know.


Common Misconceptions

“People don’t do such things here; nothing has happened here yet so it probably won’t; we have an emergency plan and good security staff, so we’re ready.” Data indicates it does and will happen anywhere, big, small, well prepared or not.

“It costs too much for security.” Yes, security can be expensive, and yes, costs need to fit within a budget, but this is when the creative thinking needs to begin. How do we create a secure event without hiring every cop in the city, or patting down every guest, etc.

“Security is not my job, I’m in food service.” Venue staff, vendors, food service, event management and the audience can be taught to be aware and observant for suspicious activity and how to report it.

“We don’t need emergency preparedness. First responders will come quickly and take charge.” In reality, a significant number of active-shooter incidents are over in five minutes. And how long does it take law enforcement to arrive? Five to seven minutes is a pretty good response time.

“We don’t need training. We can just figure it out when/if something happens.” Experience demonstrates that people perform better at a task when trained. If everyone knew and could think “Run Hide Fight” as immediately as they do “Stop Drop and Roll” for a fire, they might get out of harm’s way.

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