Security In Your Bar In Dangerous Times. Love for Las Vegas. | Bartender Journey - co*cktails. Spirits. Bartending Culture. Libations for your Ears. (2024)

Security Plans for your Bar.

The tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas this week have people realing. It was just an awful, disgusting act, but you don’t need me to tell you that. We send our best wishes to those affected,directly and indirectly. I would imagine among other repercussions that this will affect tourism in Las Vegas for some time, and will hurt our brother and sister Bartenders and other Hospitality workers in the pocketbook.

This is not the place to discuss the event itself. One issue that we have never talked about on this show is security. I am certainly no expert on this subject, but it needs to be discussed.

Bars, restaurants, music venues etc are so called “soft targets”. They are vulnerable, large numbers of people gather there. We saw this in the Paris attacks, in Orlando now Las Vegas.

Ideally every business should write a disaster plan. There are security consultants that can help with this, or you can write something up yourself, and I’m going to give you a free tool that almost automates the process.

One easy and practically free thing every bar should have, but many don’t is a LOG. Everyday at the end of a shift the manager or bartender or both should write in a log book. Even if nothing unusual happened, write that! This is really important for legal reasons, for example - if you have to cut somebody off, or there is a fight or whatever. There needs to be documentation. Some places will even include things like the weather or seemingly unrelated details, but they can become important in the future. The reason to do old school hand written logs in a physical notebook, as opposed to Google Docs or some other computerized solution is that these notes thoreticly can’t be altered after the fact. The book needs to have pages that are not easily removed, so it needs to have bound pages - a spiral notebook is no good.

Next we can talk about exits. In the Las Vegas attack many many of the injuries were attributed to people getting trampled or hurt while trying to climb walls and other things like that.

I was watching a lot of CNN, in the hours and days after the Las Vegas attack. One expert pointed out that human nature dictates people will always try to get out the same way they came in. As I’m sure you know, the Las Vegas shooting occurred at an outdoor venue. There were 4 gates used for entering, but 3 other large exits on the opposite side. As in an airplane always locate the exit nearest you, keeping in mind it may be behind you - or maybe the opposite way from where you came in. I heard one security expert say, “when I enter a place I’m already trying to figure how to get out”. In fact the advice from a US Government document that I’ll talk more about later, suggests finding the closest 2 exits.

Keeping this in mind, if there were ever an incident where you work and you had to evacuate your guests, you may need to direct them to exits they are not aware of, including possibly through the back of the house.

Here in the U.S. we have the Federal Government agency OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and according to their officail web site “Almost every business is required to have an emergency action plan (EAP).”

Luckily on their web site you can Create Your Own Emergency Action Plan (EAP). This is the free tool I mentioned a minute ago, and of course we will have a link on

This is their description of an EAP:

“An emergency action plan (EAP) is usually a written document required by particular OSHA standards. For smaller organizations, the plan does not need to be written and may be communicated orally if there are 10 or fewer employees. The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. The elements of the plan must include, but are not limited to:

  • Means of reporting fires and other emergencies
  • Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments
  • Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate
  • Procedures to account for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed
  • Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them
  • Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan”

It goes on to say that most small and medium-sized entities will get their basic plans from this system in 10 to 15 minutes. There is no charge for this. So that’s a great resource and of course we’ll have links in the show notes.

This is just the tip of the iceberg with this stuff.

I referenced a Federal Government document a few minutes ago. Its from the Department of Homeland Security and its called “Active Shooter - How to Respond”. The conventional wisdom in this situation is Run, Hide, Fight. This document details that. Also if you go to youtube and search for Run, Hide, Fight you’ll find a video that is definitely worth watching.

Back to the document - it says “Remember that customers and clients are likely to follow the lead of employees and managers during an active shooter situation”.

I’ll read through some of this, and of course link to it on

So this is Run part.

If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Help others escape, if possible
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Call 911 when you are safe

Hide Out:

If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely

to find you.

Your hiding place should:

  • Be out of the active shooter’s view
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed

and locked door)

  • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement

To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:

  • Lock the door
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture

If the active shooter is nearby:

  • Lock the door
  • Silence your cell phone, and I’ll add consider turning off vibration too. It takes a few steps and might be difficult to remember in a stressful situation. In iOS 9 and above you can go to Settings/General/Accessibility/Vibration/Off. You probably don’t want to shut the phone off completely because you’ll want the option of communication, plus sometimes the phone makes a bunch of noise as it turns just something to keep in mind. Back to the list of “If the shooter is nearby”
  • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions)
  • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desk)
  • Remain quiet
  • Try to Remain calm
  • Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location
  • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.

I’ll add that as I record this in October 2017 the ability of 911 operators to pinpoint the caller’s exact location seems to have vastly improved over the last 3 or 4 years. In an article I read on a website called the operator is get the location of the cell towers within seconds of a call coming in. A 911 dispatch trainer named Matt Langley is quoted as saying “If a phone is Phase 2 compliant -- most newer phones are -- the phones have better capabilities in sending cell towers GPS coordinates”. “Then, dispatchers communicate with that tower, which communicates with the phone”. “The caller's location if found from the cell tower is shown on an online map in front of the dispatcher. Not all states or counties have that capability”

Back to the Homeland Security Document. Last resort - Fight.

Take action against the active shooter

As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to

disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Committing to your action

Disclaimer: Remember this is not me telling you to do this, its the US Federal Gov’t’s Department of Homeland Security.

When Law Enforsem*nt Arrives

There is more on the document - I won’t read it all, but basicly raise your hands - these guys just got here, they don’t know what’s going on - we don’t want to put them in a situation where they have to make a split second decision resulting in a mistake. Of course follow their commands. Understand weird stuff could happen, like they could potentially throw you to the ground or something for your own safety. Don’t get in their way by yelling or screaming at them for help, just quickly exit the same way they came in.

There are more recommendations for Preparing for and Managing an Active Shooter Situation. I’ll let you read through them all, but the one that stuck out to me is to “activate the emergency notification system when an emergency situation occurs”. Now in a small bar its going to be pretty obvious to all that something is going on, but imagine a Hotel or even large restaurant with multiple floors and a noisy kitchen in the back. Something to think about.

Alright, last week I started a segment called “Unrelated Podcast Suggestion of the Week”. Well we are changing it already. This week its a related podcast and more than a suggestion I’m going to call this homework for you. The podcast is Nightclub Security. It looks like they only produced 21 episodes with the last one posted in 2014, but its a great show from the guys at Nightclub Security Consultants, who I met at the Nightclub & Bar Show a few years back. In particular, I’d like to you listen to episodes 4 and 5 called 6 Important Tips to Manage a Major Violent Incident in Your Venue and Ep. 005 – How to Document a Major Incident in Your Venue respectively.

As the name implies, they do Security Consultancy as well as bouncer training both in California and online. You can find them at

Our “Related Podcast Homework of the week” is brought to you by Sudio wireless bluetooth headphones. Use the coupon code “BartenderJourney” for 15% off these great headphones at or use the link in the show notes. These headphones sound great, look really sharp and are well made. I’ve been wearing the over ear model constantly in bluetooth mode when listening to music and podcasts. They come with an aux cord so you can plug them in if you want to, which if you think about it is a great feature, because if you are on a long trip and you exhaust the batteries you can plug them in and they will work until you get a chance to charge them again! They have wireless in ear or earbud models too. Check them out and remember to use coupon code “BartenderJourney” for 15% off and to show your support of this show.

Don’t forget to do your homework - I’ll be grading it! Listen to the Nightclub Security Podcast Ep 4&5.

We didn’t do a co*cktail of the Week, because after watching the news this week, I think I’ll just have a whiskey..neat.

Here’s our toast:

Here’s a health to everyone,

Peace on earth, and heaven won.

Security In Your Bar In Dangerous Times. Love for Las Vegas. | Bartender Journey - co*cktails. Spirits. Bartending Culture. Libations for your Ears. (2024)


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