While the recent nightclub tragedy in Orlando shows the vulnerability of patrons when someone is intent on inflicting mass harm, it is just one of the scenarios that must be considered when keeping patrons safe in crowded venues.
Every venue has (or should have) a security guard team assigned the task of anticipating and responding to safety and security issues. Here are tips for these teams to perform at their best to keep patrons safe.
Learning to “read” people is a skill that takes time and training and one of the most important skills a security guard team member can acquire. To be most effective, the team should develop hand signals to alert each other of situations when they begin to occur. Each team member should be assigned a specific task so that when action is needed, the team can react appropriately and quickly as a unit to resolve the issue.
Using metal detectors, visible surveillance cameras and security guard team members at the entry are all effective means to deter trouble from entering the venue. If there are individuals who regularly make trouble, you may want to consider letting entry security know who they are (through a photograph or name) so they can be denied admittance.
Dealing With Unruly Patrons
An unruly patron comes in many forms—they could be intoxicated, angry or destructive. Often times you can “talk” the person out the door by being firm, but fair. Never “chump off” the person (embarrass or belittle), especially if they’re with friends or family. It will only lead to defensiveness and more bad behavior. Only when a situation turns physical, should security consider using techniques that firmly but safely subdue the patron.
When the Unthinkable Happens
When someone is intent on harming many people in a venue, security is forced to make split-second decisions. They must decide whether to run towards the assaulter or attempt to shuttle patrons out the door—or a combination of both. With the first option, the attack on the assaulter must be smart, precise and deadly. For the latter, security must find the most direct route out the building and keep patrons moving while preventing a stampede effect.
The most important aspect of security is planning. Law enforcement constantly plays the “what if” game. What if there is only one suspect? What about multiple suspects? Are they simply drunk and boisterous or are they initiating some sort of attack? Armed or unarmed? With each variable, there is a solution to be had. Your security guard team should play the “what if” game too until every conceivable possibility that could occur at your venue is discussed and a strategy for action is devised. Whether it’s a patron who has had too much to drink or someone bent on doing harm, your team will have practiced for the scenario and will be ready to respond.