13 June 2016

What happened in Orlando? Best practices for patrons and clubs

With everyone commenting on the tragedy in Orlando I wanted to chime in as well.  We are going to talk about the things that nobody else is covering.  While everyone is talking about the gunman and the police response we will cover the victims themselves and what the club could have done to prevent or limit the carnage.

When something like this happens and I make a comment about how frequenting certain places increases your exposure to danger, people’s reaction is that this is America and people should be able to where they want.  The truth is that they can as long as they are willing to accept the risk.

The top three ingredients for increased risk are people, alcohol, and confined spaces.  The biggest danger is typically fire resulting in a large number of people trying to get out the same door at the same time.  The panic can lead to bottlenecks that trap people in the smoke and fire, or in this case gunfire.

Whenever you enter a structure you need to immediately identify an exit other than the way you came in.  In an emergency people will intuitively rush to the door they came in.  While they are doing that you exit a back or side door.   This should be your response to any danger at all from smoke to gunshots.  The longer you stay in a confined space with other people, especially intoxicated people, the smaller the chance you will escape uninjured or escape at all.  This one simple habit will save more people than anything else you could do.  It should be noted that the tactic of the majority of active shooters is to rush in and shoot all the fish in the barrel.   You would be hard pressed to find an incident where the shooter followed people out of the structure or another shooter was outside.  The more room you have to move the safer you will be.

As previously mentioned this was probably not the habit of many of the club goers at Pulse.  It has to be done upon entry before your senses are dulled by alcohol, especially in places like clubs that can be full of smoke, lights, and noise.

The fact that in addition to the 50 killed 52 were wounded ,but have survived so far tells me that first aid was provided by other patrons, and not first responders.   One federal educational mandate that I could get behind would be that every student in every school start being trained in basic first aid in kindergarten.  Once they get to six grade they should all be certified in CPR and First Aid with a refresher every one or two years.  Think about how much better the outcomes would be for all types of injuries as well as lives saved.   I also have no doubt that lives could have been saved if people knew how to treat a gunshot wound, apply a tourniquet, or treat for shock.  When these incidents occur people die while waiting for first responders.

Now onto the responsibility of the bar.  The majority of our instructors are experienced doormen aka bouncers.  Besides staffing, one of the services we provide is site assessment of all types of business including bars and clubs.
Most places, especially ones that don’t have a history of any issues do not want to spend any money on security staff, especially when they find out that we never work alone and all of our details require a minimum of two people.

Bars and clubs are in the business to make money.  This is done with cover charges, and  the sale of alcohol and food.  A successful bar is busy and staff is concentrating on getting food and alcohol out to customers.  Not only is safety and security not their job they are not trained for it.  They would be about as successful as I would behind the bar.  We see the venue with a different lens.
Not unlike sheepdogs we watch over the customers and staff, looking for anything that does not feel right.  We couple experience with intuition which we act before a problem becomes crystal clear, or it has already happened.  There was a case in Dillsburg PA last year where a murder suicide occurred at a bar.  From all accounts it occurred with little warning and two people were dead in minutes.  Although security may not have been able to stop it.  In the aftermath they could have controlled the aftermath by providing first aid, helping people exit, securing the scene, and working with the police.

Nothing has been said in the news, as least not yet, about what security staff if any Pulse had.  What I can say is that they absolutely had a responsibility to have one.  There should have been staff on the doors not only to scan people coming in but also to lock the front doors to keep the gunman out.  A properly trained security staff could have rushed the shooter, helped people get out and provided first aid.  They would also have been able to provide the police with the tactical information they needed.

You are probably wondering why I have not listed the officer outside as security.  The reason is that he wasn’t.  The cop on the outside was like a fire extinguisher.  It does not give you the right to play with fire.   Estimates are that there were 300+ people in the club.  What can an officer on the outside do to control anything that occurs in the club?  Nothing until it gets so bad it spills into the street and at that point he will need to call more officers.

It is all about best practices and prevention.  If you cannot handle a fight you cannot handle an active shooter.  You cannot take a customer that you are fond of and pay him $10 an hour to sit on the door and check IDs.  You need trained professionals, we along with other companies around the country provide professionals.

At this point I will let other people talk about the police response.  People will harp on this because they don’t want to put any of the responsibility on the club itself.  It would be interesting to see the layout of the club, how they did on past fire inspections, and see what their security plan was of if they had one at all.  It is no different than expecting the police to control what goes on in your house.  It gets to the point where you cannot control it, and call the police only to complain that they could not fix your problem.

Here are some simple best practices in the case of an emergency in a club.  They cost nothing and could save lives-

All house lights are turned on, lasers etc. are turned off.
All music is turned off.
DJ’s gives directions to exit the venue and other information
All staff carries a whistle in case of emergency, three short blasts signal other staff of emergency and to carry out the security plan.

Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to all those effected and our hearts go out to them.

For more information call 717-693-2085 or e-mail us.

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