Founder Bruce McIndoe gives his expertise to Northstar Meetings Group on travel safety and security for meetings and events. Violence can happen anywhere, so McIndoe suggests before the meeting or event, look at where people will travel from and the type of destination that would work for the objective. After that decision is made, an event planner can figure out what kind of capabilities the venue has around personal health and safety. The following security advice for meeting and event planners was recommended during McIndoe's interview.
Look at infrastructure in terms of nearby hospitals, police or other emergency response services.
"Assess the effectiveness of the resources in that destination to support your event and be able to respond in a timely manner if an incident should occur." McIndoe alluded that the most recent incidents, such as the shooting incident in El Paso, were quickly controlled because of the capability of the local police or security force, not what a meeting planner could have done. In these recent cases, armed guards were also on-site. That's the only way you can respond in 30 to 45 seconds.
Bruce said, "If you go to a place that doesn't have those support services, then you either need to deliver them yourself by hiring contract guards, or setting up an emergency medical station; whatever it may be to mitigate that risk so that you can hold your event in that location or pick a different location."
Know that security differs for outdoor events.
There are numerous challenges with security for outdoor events. With the level of threat seen as of recent, an increase in police presence is likely. McIndoe also recommends more surveillance and social media monitoring. "For example, [WorldAware] has teams that will actually monitor Instagram, Twitter, [and other platforms], and look for negative or disparaging remarks, or anything that requires a rapid response. Someone might say, 'Hey, somebody just jumped over this fence' or 'this guy just broke through a restricted area.' You can see that on social media and relay it to the security force so that they can figure out what's going on. That's a very common capability, and there are half a dozen companies that will provide that kind of social-media monitoring; we call it threat-monitoring service."
"Any time when you have a mass gathering, it's when people get scared and then start moving as a herd that people get hurt. Unfortunately, it's kids or older or disabled people who don't necessarily keep up. I always tell people that if you're in that situation, move to the nearest obstacle, a wall or a piling or whatever you can get near or behind so that you're not in that flow of traffic, and traffic will flow around you."
With the incident in Las Vegas, one of the challenges with the venue layout is the lack of egress portals, which were needed to manage a rapid offloading of people. McIndoe said, "It's just like being in an airplane. If you have to evacuate and there is only one emergency door, it'd be great if you had 15 to 30 minutes to load people off, but there are six doors because you've got to do it in two or three minutes."
Take a look at the full interview here.