Ten years ago, the possibility of a mass shooting happening during a business event would never have crossed most people’s minds. But times change and in the current landscape, preparing for an active shooter at your event is a very important reality. Consider the following:

  • Three of the five deadliest shootings in American history, including the two deadliest, occurred between 2016 and 2017.
  • The number of people killed by an active shooter increased 140 percent from 2014 and 2015 to 2016 and 2017. Injuries rose by 419 percent.1

Being adequately prepared could save many lives. In fact, it could make the difference between many fatalities and none.

While it’s not something that any organization wants to consider, especially during an event such as a travel incentive or large meeting, providing active shooter training is imperative in today’s world. Doing so does not need to be time consuming or costly; in some cases, handling a threat is as simple as using common sense and knowing exactly where all of the exits are.

Here are a few tips for active shooter risk management preparation.

Make a Plan

This may sound obvious, but you might be surprised by how many organizations assume they could just “wing it” if a shooting occurred at one of their offsite meetings. Conversely, other companies assume there is nothing they could do to reduce or eliminate casualties and hope they will never have to deal with the situation.

The fact of the matter is, the number and frequency of shootings in the United States is steadily increasing. Unfortunately, mass shooters are a very real threat. Fortunately, there are effective measures your staff can take to protect themselves, attendees, vendors and speakers at your offsite meetings.

It all starts with making a plan. A great first step in the process of planning is to hire a security expert to teach your event staff the fundamentals of escaping from an active shooter.

Get Expert Guidance

Did you know that running from a shooter is far more effective than trying to erect a barricade? Even law enforcement officials have a hard time hitting a moving target. Imagine a civilian who is not trained trying to do the same. When people do run, it is best to move away in a zig zag pattern because it makes it even more difficult for the shooter to make a hit.

These are the types of lifesaving tips that a security or law enforcement professional can give your employees. The following basics are important to remember. That said, we stress that none of the tips in this article should be considered the final word. Always consult a trained, certified expert.


During your venue walk-through, make a mental assessment of all exit points and routes as well as objects you could throw at a shooter if necessary. Create a diagram of the exit routes and make sure all of your onsite employees have a copy. A digital version for their mobile devices would be particularly handy and accessible.


While creating a barricade is not the ideal plan, sometimes it is the only option you have. Effective barricading involves blocking all entry points into the area. Always get instructions on barricading from a certified, trained expert.


Once the situation is somewhat under control, the next step is to alert law enforcement professionals. It is imperative, when you contact them, to give the dispatcher all pertinent information including the address of the venue. They may not be local and therefore may be unfamiliar with landmarks. Do not get discouraged if the dispatcher disconnects the call after obtaining the information. They may need to call other agencies to intervene.


Creating a distraction by throwing objects at the shooter serves two purposes: it buys you time and makes the shooter’s job harder.


Ideally, you will be able to get everyone out of the venue. You should be far enough away from it that you can no longer see the building.

As we said above, you should always consult a security expert about active shooter risk management tips. However, you can start by reviewing the tips above and educating your team on this type of situation.

For more information about how Gavel International can help your organization through outsourced meeting planning, event and travel incentive programs, contact us.



Eloisa Mendez