As the Christmas event period fast approaches, Government authorities across Australia have been placed on high alert as the threat of terrorism continues to be a way of life for both organisers and participants in public events.

In addition to recently released Hostile Vehicle Guidelines, the “Active Armed Offender Guidelines for Crowded Places” has also been released in 2017 by the Australia- New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC) in response to a growing number of ‘active shooter’ crowd-related terrorism threats around the world.

In October 2017 Las Vegas became the location of the deadliest firearm attack on US soil in modern US history, killing more than 50 people and injuring over 500 according to The Guardian. The incident occurred at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival, held on a 15 acre outdoor venue with approximately 22,000 patrons attending. As was well reported, the shooter was in a nearby hotel building on the 32nd floor.

While active shooter scenarios are rare events in Australia and New Zealand, they occur more regularly in the US; and much can be gained in terms of response strategies for event organisers to Active Shooter incidents.

The principles of Run – Hide – Fight; (and ‘Tell’ in Australia/New Zealand), are well documented responses that individuals can be instructed to do as part of basic response procedures.  However, as the Vegas incident demonstrated, the choice of venue location is also important; as is the effectiveness of access control of the venue and its surrounding vantage points.

There is no simple solution here, as event organisers are not always availed of countless venue options. The likely outcome of a continued deterioration of the security environment will be, increased security-related infrastructure and labour force costs.  Ultimately, the eventual conclusion being cancellation of public events – and nobody in our industry wants this!! 

To apply a risk management approach to security planning, consider both preventative and preparedness measures such as:

  •          Engage a competent and qualified security advisor;
  •          Take heed from the ANZCTC resources;
  •          Consider site locations carefully (for outdoor events and mass gatherings);
  •          Develop a detailed Security Risk Management Plan and Emergency Response Plan;
  •          Undertake workforce training in preventative and response measures;
  •          Build close relationships with local police and seek their guidance regarding risk control measures and the status of                 threats; and
  •          Rehearse response protocols using desktop exercises and scenario planning.