What if the next Active Shooter is at your bar?
When was the first time you ever heard the term Active Shooter? Have you ever given the term any thought OTHER than after a hot news headline? Does anyone in the bar and club industry really give the term Active Shooter any thought what so ever?
For me, it was back in April 1999, shortly after Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold committed the Columbine High School massacre when I learned the term Active Shooter. I was a San Diego Police Officer at the time and was tasked with helping to create and train our local high school teachers and administrators what to do if we experienced a similar deadly incident. Nothing has changed since then.
As I write, this week alone, there have been three “active shooter” scenarios in our country taking nearly ten lives; 2 dead at a Troutdale, Oregon high school, 5 dead in Las Vegas and 1 dead in Seattle. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in their guide, “Active Shooter; How to Respond” states that an Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. Pretty simple and clear definition of a very scary and deadly term.
Several years ago, I started to notice a rise in club and bar violence. After many weeks of intense research I decided to make a strong push to bring the topic of Active Shooter scenarios to the hospitality table. Although the need for such discussions is understood, it’s been a pretty hard nut to crack as the topic is neither pretty nor a glamorous discussion topic.
Well, my business is focused on training and safety and not selling food and drink so I’ll keep pushing this agenda. My passion for getting this message out is because I truly feel, deep in my heart, that it’s just a matter of time before our country has a club or bar, totally and completely targeted by someone who will start killing at the front door and carry their murder spree into the bowels of the bar or club until they are dead themselves. Being prepared for this type of incident can absolutely help to save lives.
Being prepared doesn’t mean we have to hold law enforcement tactical drills in our licensed establishments. No, but simply talking about the “what if” of an Active Shooter incident at a club or bar is a great start. Then, perhaps in some time, we can hold some informal onsite role-play training for our bar and club staff members. And, maybe, just maybe we can have a larger discussion at one of the many national conventions or tradeshows.
The discussion surrounding a bar or club Active Shooter should contain some very specific discussion points. What follows is a down and dirty best practices from our point of view on keeping employees and guests safe during a bar or club Active Shooter scenario.
- Teach all employees what an Active Shooter is and why your bar or club may be a target. This training must include the idea that many of Active Shooters may have prior issues with the target or the people at the target.
- Teach all employees the concept of RUN – HIDE – FIGHT. These three words are easy to remember law enforcement guidelines that have proven to save lives in an Active Shooter situation.
- Teach all security employees they may be the first “target” of an Active Shooter and they may be forced to consider engaging the suspect for the greater good. This is a hard discussion to have and can give the security employees a better sense of the importance of their job.
- Truly evaluate your bar or club emergency exits and emergency lighting system. Trust me, at the sound of the first gunshot, your guests will panic and run away from the sound. This large, group panic can cause more injuries than an Active Shooter.
- Teach all employees possible after incident responses surrounding Initial Police Response, Crowd Control, First Aid, Crime Scene Management and Report Writing.
There may be many more points to get employees better prepared to deal with an Active Shooter, but these 5 points are a good start. And, we have to start with something cause we’re not doing much at all now.
Please don’t hesitate to share this article and openly discuss the issue before our industry is forced to deal with it.
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Good luck and Be Safe.