By Daniel Venet
Tree of Life Synagogue; Parkland; Emanuel African American Methodist Church; Charleston; Las Vegas; Sandy Hook; Columbine and Oklahoma City. It’s clear what all these places have in common, and there are many more. The list goes on.
These examples of terrorism have heightened our awareness and fear when we enter an office building, movie theatres, schools and houses of worship. Many of us scan these facilities seeking the nearest exit. Others identify the closest place to take cover.
Everyone is rightfully planning for the “what ifs.” But parents, employees, worshippers and others are expecting more than just personal vigilance from the facilities they frequent. With the continuing trend of shootings and bombings in public spaces, building owners, school boards and property management firms are increasingly tasked with devising security plans that can minimize damage and injuries.
While they may not be able to eliminate threats, they can develop plans that prevent injuries and deaths and perhaps buy some time for first responders to arrive on the scene.
So, what are the components of this plan? First, it’s important to realize that it is the end result of a collaboration of professionals from various disciplines, including law enforcement, technology experts, architects, window film companies and security firms. Here are some components of a security plan to take into consideration that hopefully prevents injuries and deaths, while somewhat allaying fears among citizens frequenting public places:
Define the threat. Based on the layout of the building or public space, try to determine the most likely threats. Could it be an armed intruder forcing entry or an explosive device?
Define your priority locations. Based on frequency of occupancy and activities, identify the rooms and areas which you believe are most vulnerable. For example, these could be sanctuaries, social centers and classrooms.
Analyze the points of entry. Focus on ease of approach, ground-level glass (doors and windows) and areas hidden from the street and public view. Identify adjacent landscaping which can hide an intruder or explosive device.
Analyze building design to determine evacuation routes and steps to upgrade physical security. Preparation and practice are the watch words you’ll want to follow. Taking simple steps to fortify entries and vulnerable areas of your buildings and action plans will allow practiced evacuation coordinated with emergency medical services. This will save lives, no matter what the emergency.
With this information in hand, vulnerable facilities can put together a security and evacuation plan. Here are some steps you can take to execute this plan:
- Create floor plans, illustrating evacuation routes and identifying entries/exits.
- Label and create signage for all entries/exits and ensure that emergency lighting is working properly.
- Make sure the local emergency services have a current set of these plans.
- Provide security personnel with clearly stated plans of action.
- Install security cameras to monitor all areas of the structure.
- Limit access points so it is easy to monitor who and where people are entering your facility.
- Remove or move bushes, garbage cans and other places where explosives can be hidden.
- Install security/blast window film and a perimeter filmed glass-to-frame attachment system, to slow forced entry through windows and glass doors —preferably one that is certified by Underwriters Laboratories under UL-972. These films will also retain shards of glass in the event of a blast or violent weather and prevents them from becoming dangerous projectiles. This can buy time for first responders to arrive on the scene.
- Install metal detectors at entrances.
- Establish a budget that can incrementally address these steps to securing and protecting people.
- Educate staff to be vigilant and encourage them to be on the lookout for suspicious people.
While this isn’t the kind of world we want to live in, unfortunately we don’t have a choice. It can be a dangerous world and this must be acknowledged and addressed in a comprehensive manner that places a focus on securing public spaces.
By implementing these measures, we may be able to better safeguard against a wide range of threats. Just as important, it can also give people confidence that the staff at public facilities are doing everything in their power to prevent acts of terrorism and injuries.
Daniel Venet is executive vice president of CHB Industries, a Hauppauge, NY-based company that provides office / government buildings, houses of worships and homes with creative security, solar, decorative and anti-graffiti window film solutions. For more information, visit www.chbindustries.com.