RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – This summer more people are returning to traveling, concerts and other activities that many put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is also a heightened awareness surrounding safety following several mass shootings.
Monday, the Raleigh Convention Center hosted security training to help venues keep people safe.
Approximately 375 people from across North Carolina and the southeast learned how to prepare for security threats, including active shooters.
Schools, churches and grocery stores have all recently become bigger targets for mass shooters, as seen by recent events.
“This thing about ‘it can’t happen to me anymore’, that old adage is no longer in effect today,” Mark Herrera, the Director of Safety and Security for the International Association of Venue Managers, said. “It can happen to you at any given time, anywhere.”
That’s why representatives from all kinds of venues, from museums, churches, schools to sports arenas, joined together at the Raleigh Convention Center to learn how to respond to security threats.
“Whether you’re at a church or you’re in a venue enjoying an event, you’re at a facility, a restaurant, it doesn’t matter where you’re at, the key is can you spot the anomalous behavior quickly and have a plan of action to protect yourself and others?” Herrera asked.
His goal is to help people and facilities come up with those plans. He’s spent years working in law enforcement special operations and with the Department of Homeland Security.
“I have actually been involved in a shooting, two shooting situations, where I learned a lot. I learned about the physiological effects on the human body and how that’s going to affect my ability to respond,” he said. “Those physiological effects prevent you from thinking clearly.”
He said being prepared is key in any emergency situation.
Kerry Painter, the director and General Manager of the Raleigh Convention and Performing Arts Complex, said that’s why training like this is so important, but it’s only the beginning.
“It’s giving everybody awareness, getting them thinking about it then having conversations all year, so it’s never one day; it’s continuous,” she said.
Everyone hopes the training is never put into practice, but Painter said it’s important to be ready.
“You just have to know that it is inevitable that there will be other incidents,” Painter said. “Think it through and be ready in advance, not just panicking the moment it arrives.”
Additionally, the training didn’t focus solely on active shooters, it also addressed de-escalation techniques and crowd management.