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FocusPoint CEO quoted in Vice article discussing concert security in wake of Vegas

October 3rd, 2017 Comments off

By:  Francisco Alvarado

Originally published here

When Stephen Paddock turned the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas into the deadliest shooting in modern US history on Sunday, killing at least 59 people and injuring 527 others, it wasn’t the first time in recent memory that a live-music event served as a soft target for mass bloodshed.

In June, a suicide bomber killed 22 people and wounded 59 more at an Ariana Grande concert in the UK, the blast driving dozens of panic-stricken attendees to jump railings as they made their escape. And perhaps most notoriously, in late 2015, an Islamic State–affiliated terrorist cell carried out coordinated attacks in Paris that claimed nearly 100 lives at an Eagles of Death Metal show in the city’s Bataclan theater, where some concertgoers found themselves trapped inside the venue. (Dozens more civilians were killed in other attacks around the city.)

If they were ever a relative safe haven for (mostly young) people to enjoy their favorite artists up close, live-music shows must now be understood as easy targets for mass murderers of any ideology, a new normal that could result in drastic public-safety measures at future concerts and festivals, according to security experts specializing in large-scale events.

“The top threats we have today didn’t exist three years ago,” Jason Porter, eastern region vice president for global private security firm Pinkerton, said. “These heinous acts are something that have to be at the forefront of every major event planner’s mind.”

While it is virtually impossible to plan for an individual with an arsenal of firearms raining down storms of bullets on 22,000 concertgoers, event organizers and security firms they hire will have to dedicate new resources to planning for surprise attacks. That could lead to live showrunners implementing new pre-event surveillance sweeps, hiring bevies of new off-duty undercover police officers, and possibly taking over entire hotel floors.

“Venue locations will be more scrutinized, as well as taking additional steps to secure hotel rooms that face the venue to prevent something like this from happening again,” Porter said. “Although when you are talking about a massive hotel like Mandalay Bay, it could be hundreds of rooms. The cost would be enormous.”

Advances in police technology could also provide event organizers and concert security teams with tools to respond quicker to an active-shooter situation, according to Greg Pearson, CEO of global risk consulting firm FocusPoint International. He suggested promoters should consider holding events in cities where police departments have deployed gunfire detection systems like Shotspotter, even as some experts question the effectiveness of those programs.

If nothing else, these systems do seem capable of helping first responders locate a shooter’s position faster than calls to 911. “They would know where the bullets are coming from, the type of rounds being used, how many weapons are being fired, and if there is more than one shooter,” Pearson said. “In Vegas, the SWAT team came in a tactical formation, but they had no clue what they were walking into.”

The smoke from Paddock’s weapons setting off his hotel room alarm is reportedly what police used to hone in on his location, and as is often the case during mass-shooting events, initial accounts erroneously suggested there might be more than one shooter. Investigators found 23 firearms in Paddock’s Mandalay Bay hotel suite on the 32nd floor, where he carried out his attack. An additional 19 firearms were discovered in his home.

It’s already common for music festivals to design their own apps to help people enjoy the shows, but promoters will now be under new pressure to be ready to deliver emergency messages and alerts to patrons, according to Pearson. “If there is an active shooter, you can notify everyone about shots being fired from this general vicinity and guide them toward exit points,” he told me.

Perhaps most important, promoters and venue operators will likely take new steps to train employees about how to get people out of catastrophic incident. “When an emotionally charged event like a mass shooting takes place, most people will run back to the area where they came in,” Pearson said. “The problem is that everyone is heading in the same direction. That artery gets choked of and people get caught in a death funnel.”

Steve Adelman, vice president of the Event Safety Alliance, said the Scottsdale, Arizona–based nonprofit organization conducts active-shooter response training for concert security personnel from around the country. “We are training you to recognize what gunfire sounds like in a noisy concert or sports venue,” Adelman said. “We are going to teach you how to fight through the paralysis most people suffer so you can be a shepherd that leads people to safety.”

The alliance is also training concert security workers and event operations managers what to do when an individual drives a vehicle into a crowd or when a bomb is detonated inside or near the venue. “We are teaching people how to get crowds to safety quickly,” Adelman said. “Hopefully in a direction of shelter and away from the bad guy.”

Even so, Adelman doesn’t believe Paddock’s homicidal rampage should—or will—prevent promoters from putting together large shows in concentrated urban areas. “Is the lesson here that we don’t hold open air festivals next door to anything anymore?” he said. “I doubt it. This incident shouldn’t change the way people feel about going to shows.”

WLTV entrevista sobre los tiradores activos con Ruben Mena, AFIMAC experto en seguridad

June 23rd, 2016 Comments off

WLTV entrevista sobre los tiradores activos con Ruben Mena, experto en seguridad

WLTV interview on active shooter situations and response with Ruben Mena, AFIMAC Global security expert.

Presidente AFIMAC América Latina Ruben Mena analiza la respuesta SWAT en situaciones tirador activos – Telemundo WSCV

June 23rd, 2016 Comments off

SWAT respuesta relacionada con los tiradores activos – Telemundo WSCV Channel 51.

AFIMAC Latin America President Ruben Mena discusses SWAT response in active shooter situations on Telemundo WSCV Channel 51.

UNIVISION 23 Miami: AFIMAC Art Garffer, un experto en seguridad analiza la masacre de Orlando

June 13th, 2016 Comments off

UNIVISION 23 MIAMI: Un experto en seguridad analiza la masacre de Orlando y la califica como crimen de odio y un posible ataque terrorista.

 

USA Today ‘Schools, churches and theaters take steps to prepare for unexpected attacks’ by Adam Stone

January 18th, 2016 Comments off

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AFIMAC’s Peter Martin quoted by Associated Press related to Workplace Emergency Plans, as featured on ABC NEWS

December 16th, 2015 Comments off

Workplace Balance

The terror attack at a social services facility in California has become a sobering reminder to companies of how vulnerable workplaces can be when employees are confronted with active shooters.

Since a gun-wielding husband-and-wife team killed 14 and wounded 21 others this month in San Bernardino, California, employers across the country have been reassessing their emergency plans to ensure they are prepared to deal with workplace violence.

More companies have been calling security and human resources experts to get information on how to prepare for an attack. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said big companies have asked for permission to use its nine-minute video, “Surviving an Active Shooter,” which portrays shootings in an office, a shopping mall and a school.

And “Run. Hide. Fight.,” a six-minute video created by Houston officials on what to do when someone opens fire in the office, has been viewed tens of thousands of times daily since the rampage, the most views since its release around the time of the mass shooting in a Coloradomovie theater in 2012. Jackie Miller, the city of Houston’s community preparedness programs manager, said one company asked for 6,000 wallet-sized cards with the mantra from the video, encouraging workers to hide if they can’t run, and fight if they can’t hide.

The company inquiries come as workplace violence in the U.S. has made international headlines. The most recent official statistics are two years old and show the rate of workplace violence to be steady for the previous two decades. Still, deaths resulting from workplace violence were the second leading cause of job fatalities in the U.S. after transportation incidents in 2013, the latest data available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And studies show that most companies are ill-equipped to deal with workplace violence. A government survey in 2005 found that 80 percent of companies that experienced a violent incident didn’t subsequently change workplace violence policies or programs. The survey did not spell out what a policy or program would include.

In practice, companies’ response plans range from highly detailed to nonexistent, security experts say. Brent O’Bryan, vice president of AlliedBarton Security Services, said when he gives seminars on workplace violence awareness across the country, about half the attendees say their companies have no policy. “I am not confident that most employers are prepared,” he says.

Part of the problem is that most companies don’t know how to create a workplace violence plan, says Peter Martin, CEO of AFIMAC Global, a security consulting company based in Miami.

Also, there’s a belief by some that workplace violence won’t happen in their office: Indeed, smaller companies may not be particularly concerned about workplace violence following shootings, says Jay Starkman, CEO of Engage PEO, a human resources provider based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“A lot of employers, especially small and medium-sized businesses, believe even in the wake of all the things you read about: ‘It can’t happen here, not in my company, not with the people I know,'” Starkman says.

Some companies that are aware of the potential for workplace violence are preparing in the event of an active shooting. Choice Hotels, for instance, designates employees who are able to block access to elevators and direct other staffers to evacuation routes. Its response plans are continually evolving, but no changes have been made since the San Bernardino shootings, says Anne Hendrick, vice president of human resources for the hotel company.

Some companies also include in their plans an emphasis on preventing violence before it starts. Beer and wine distributor Monarch Beverage, which has about 650 employees at its Indianapolis headquarters, has a doctor and nurse practitioner onsite who are able to handle mental health issues. Supervisors also are trained to recognize changes in workers’ behavior or to alert security if they anticipate trouble from a negative job review.

“Our people are hyper-vigilant to make sure they involve our security team if they have any concerns whatsoever,” says Natalie Roberts, senior vice president with the Indianapolis company, which also has an emergency plan.

But even when companies prepare for workplace violence, the end result can be tragic. Some of the San Bernardino shooting survivors followed workplace violence training they were given about a year before the killings.

Employees at the San Bernardino County Environmental Health Services division had gotten “active shooter” training in the same conference room where the shootings took place. Two survivors said colleagues reacted by trying to do as they were trained — dropping under the tables and staying quiet to avoid attracting attention.

Rob Shuster, AFIMAC VP on WTAP NEWS – Active Shooter Critical Moments

December 14th, 2015 Comments off

WTAP NEWS – Active Shooter Critical Moments

 

Rob Shuster of AFIMAC discusses active shooter incidents with WTAP NEWS.

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Shootings in businesses and public offices are nothing new.

But in the past, they’ve been motivated by people with largely personal issues.

Because of that, companies have surfaced to help employees take a pro–‐active stance to deal with them.

“People can, out of panic and out of fear, do things you wouldn’t expect them to do,” says Ron Shuster, Vice–‐President for training, AFIMAC “They’ll freeze; they’ll take things out with them, some of them will understand that priority one is to evacuate; some of them will not. Some of them will do things that will make things more difficult for the responding police officers,  and they have to be schooled not to do those things.”

AFIMAC provides active shooter training for businesses and similar organizations. Another company, Dark Angel Medical, helps responders prepare for those incidents.

But one of its officials says fighting back is one way not to deal with a mass gunman.

“Police are going to be coming, and I’m not going to be running out of the store with my gun out, because they’ll think I’m the bad guy,” says Dark Angel co–‐founder Lynn Davis. “I’m going to be trying to move away from the dangerous situation, and my main mission is to protect my husband and my child.”

Both companies say due to events of the past month, active shooter training may be evolving.

“I suspect that will happen, given Paris,” Shuster says. “I think it’s ridiculous to assume that won’t happen here. But it did happen in Paris.” AFIMAC was started in the 1980s by former Washington County commissioner James Vuksic.

Dark Angel plans a training exercise next June in Reno, Ohio, just outside Marietta.

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