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Active Shooter

Author PhotoAm I the only one a little wistful for the way things used to be? I loved the freedom that my childhood afforded me that just doesn’t seem to be afforded to kids today. We ran out of the house in the morning in the summer or on the weekends and played all day—rode our bikes for miles, ran through the woods, skated and played ball in the street. We didn’t have traveling sport teams that kept us busy and we didn’t have all sorts of video and electronic games to bury our heads and distract us. Our parents didn’t worry about us as much as we worry about our kids now… 

This industry tends to look out for one another and recently I had the good fortune to attend an event at McCormick Place co-hosted by the EDPA Midwest Chapter, ESCA and GES. It was a “Behind the Scenes” event which coincided with the set-up for IMTS. I highly recommend these “Behind the Scenes” events if one comes to your city. Those of us in attendance got to see more intimately the details of material handling on a large scale given that IMTS occupied more than 1.3 million square feet of McCormick Place and expected attendance this year was just over 115,000 attendees. Perhaps many of you had clients with booths at the show. There is so much that I could share on this topic of material handling and how we as a vendor to you can help but I’m not going to…

Instead, I would like to share some information that I gleaned from the security presentation that was given prior to the other scheduled events that day. The security presentation was given by a panel of former employees of New York City and Chicago police departments who are now executives with United Security—a security firm who provides security in many large city event centers. The topic was more than “security”—it was specifically regarding “Active Shooter” situations. As I said, this industry looks out for one another. And I get wistful for the way things used to be when I read or see on the news another active shooter situation in our own country. This didn’t used to happen to such a degree as it seems to these days.

Author PhotoIt is our reality now. One attendee asked the panelists if there had been any reported incidents to date at a trade show or event to which they replied this way. “It’s not a matter of if, where or how. It is now a matter of when.” Since the early inception of the Department of Homeland Security, shortly after September 11, 2001, our government has been tracking and analyzing various bits of information regarding terrorists’ activities and active shooter incidents. They know that active shooters look for “soft targets”. Soft targets are those places where large numbers of people are expected, but a large security presence is not. Based upon their findings, major sporting events, airports and other places now have increased security and police presence. Now that we’ve hardened those places, where are the next targets? If Paris is any evidence, we’ve seen concert venues and outdoor parades as the next targets. What about trade shows? That’s a sobering thought, is it not?!

So my question to you is, “How many of you have considered or have helped a client plan for an active shooter situation?” You spend so much time working through a budget, protecting and enlivening their brand and simply getting them ready for the show. Did you ever think you might want to consider counseling them on the unthinkable? And how might you design an exhibit to mitigate the wrath of such a situation?

Here are a couple of thoughts shared with us in Chicago. If you find yourself in an active shooter situation:

  1. RUN away from the scene, if you can.
  2. HIDE if you can’t (run away)
  3. FIGHT if you must…it may be your only chance to stay alive and save other lives…

The panel also suggested that exhibitors and attendees of shows develop a plan which includes:

  • A rally point—a place where all employees know to meet in case of an active shooter situation. Someplace usually outside a good distance away from a building. Try not to pick a point where emergency personnel might be working or entering a scene.
  • Advise all employees to always keep their cell phones in a handy place or on their person in case they need to run so that they have a means of communication later.
  • Do you have a good idea of how many people you have at the show, where they might be and how to get a hold of them after a situation to make sure they are okay? (hence a good idea to have a rally point in case all communications are down)
  • Always look for and be aware of all the exits in a building, restaurant, hotel, etc. The best exit in an active shooter situation may not always the one you came in…

You can find more information here: https://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness

About the Author

Shannan Werckle is an Account Executive at Optima Graphics.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, other Authors, Optima Graphics or Taylor Corp.

Author Photo

  1. Jerry Meddick
    September 30, 2016 at 11:13 am


    Great post. Something that many prefer not to discuss, but a reality for us in these times. Thanks for sharing.

  2. September 30, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Good article Shannan. I’m sharing it on LinkedIn.

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