FocusPoint CEO quoted in Vice article discussing concert security in wake of Vegas

October 3rd, 2017 No comments

By:  Francisco Alvarado

Originally published here

When Stephen Paddock turned the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas into the deadliest shooting in modern US history on Sunday, killing at least 59 people and injuring 527 others, it wasn’t the first time in recent memory that a live-music event served as a soft target for mass bloodshed.

In June, a suicide bomber killed 22 people and wounded 59 more at an Ariana Grande concert in the UK, the blast driving dozens of panic-stricken attendees to jump railings as they made their escape. And perhaps most notoriously, in late 2015, an Islamic State–affiliated terrorist cell carried out coordinated attacks in Paris that claimed nearly 100 lives at an Eagles of Death Metal show in the city’s Bataclan theater, where some concertgoers found themselves trapped inside the venue. (Dozens more civilians were killed in other attacks around the city.)

If they were ever a relative safe haven for (mostly young) people to enjoy their favorite artists up close, live-music shows must now be understood as easy targets for mass murderers of any ideology, a new normal that could result in drastic public-safety measures at future concerts and festivals, according to security experts specializing in large-scale events.

“The top threats we have today didn’t exist three years ago,” Jason Porter, eastern region vice president for global private security firm Pinkerton, said. “These heinous acts are something that have to be at the forefront of every major event planner’s mind.”

While it is virtually impossible to plan for an individual with an arsenal of firearms raining down storms of bullets on 22,000 concertgoers, event organizers and security firms they hire will have to dedicate new resources to planning for surprise attacks. That could lead to live showrunners implementing new pre-event surveillance sweeps, hiring bevies of new off-duty undercover police officers, and possibly taking over entire hotel floors.

“Venue locations will be more scrutinized, as well as taking additional steps to secure hotel rooms that face the venue to prevent something like this from happening again,” Porter said. “Although when you are talking about a massive hotel like Mandalay Bay, it could be hundreds of rooms. The cost would be enormous.”

Advances in police technology could also provide event organizers and concert security teams with tools to respond quicker to an active-shooter situation, according to Greg Pearson, CEO of global risk consulting firm FocusPoint International. He suggested promoters should consider holding events in cities where police departments have deployed gunfire detection systems like Shotspotter, even as some experts question the effectiveness of those programs.

If nothing else, these systems do seem capable of helping first responders locate a shooter’s position faster than calls to 911. “They would know where the bullets are coming from, the type of rounds being used, how many weapons are being fired, and if there is more than one shooter,” Pearson said. “In Vegas, the SWAT team came in a tactical formation, but they had no clue what they were walking into.”

The smoke from Paddock’s weapons setting off his hotel room alarm is reportedly what police used to hone in on his location, and as is often the case during mass-shooting events, initial accounts erroneously suggested there might be more than one shooter. Investigators found 23 firearms in Paddock’s Mandalay Bay hotel suite on the 32nd floor, where he carried out his attack. An additional 19 firearms were discovered in his home.

It’s already common for music festivals to design their own apps to help people enjoy the shows, but promoters will now be under new pressure to be ready to deliver emergency messages and alerts to patrons, according to Pearson. “If there is an active shooter, you can notify everyone about shots being fired from this general vicinity and guide them toward exit points,” he told me.

Perhaps most important, promoters and venue operators will likely take new steps to train employees about how to get people out of catastrophic incident. “When an emotionally charged event like a mass shooting takes place, most people will run back to the area where they came in,” Pearson said. “The problem is that everyone is heading in the same direction. That artery gets choked of and people get caught in a death funnel.”

Steve Adelman, vice president of the Event Safety Alliance, said the Scottsdale, Arizona–based nonprofit organization conducts active-shooter response training for concert security personnel from around the country. “We are training you to recognize what gunfire sounds like in a noisy concert or sports venue,” Adelman said. “We are going to teach you how to fight through the paralysis most people suffer so you can be a shepherd that leads people to safety.”

The alliance is also training concert security workers and event operations managers what to do when an individual drives a vehicle into a crowd or when a bomb is detonated inside or near the venue. “We are teaching people how to get crowds to safety quickly,” Adelman said. “Hopefully in a direction of shelter and away from the bad guy.”

Even so, Adelman doesn’t believe Paddock’s homicidal rampage should—or will—prevent promoters from putting together large shows in concentrated urban areas. “Is the lesson here that we don’t hold open air festivals next door to anything anymore?” he said. “I doubt it. This incident shouldn’t change the way people feel about going to shows.”

Keeping Our Staff Safe Through Irma

September 8th, 2017 No comments

Although our staff already know that we assist clients during natural disasters, we shared this infographic with them to demonstrate how we are managing our employee’s safety at our Plantation, Florida operations center during Hurricane Irma. Given the interest, we also wanted to share it publicly to give everyone some insight into how governments and businesses utilize our services to ensure the safety of their workforce and assets.

Our crisis response center (CRC) is currently tracking the whereabouts of employees, setting up dedicated assistance hotline numbers for staff, deploying crisis assistance teams (CAT) and medical personnel, equipment and vehicles to affected areas and assembling base camps.

Keep safe.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Hurricane Harvey: 7 Ways We Can Immediately Help

August 29th, 2017 No comments

FP-Hurricane-Assistance

  1. We provide: Hurricane Assistance Hotline for Employees
    We can activate dedicated Assistance Hotlines to provide a vital communications link between employers and employees impacted by a natural disaster.  The Hotline is deployed as the primary means of communicating assistance needs of employees impacted by the natural disaster.  The Hotline is staffed by Operational Support Staff (OSS) located within FocusPoint’s Crisis Response Center(CRC).  OSS personnel triage and document all incoming assistance requests and rely the requests to employers via a proprietary communications platform and mapping tool.
  2. We provide: CAT Team (Crisis Assistance Team)
    The CAT Team consists of Emergency Medical Technicians, Swift Water/High Water Rescue personnel, current and retired law enforcement providing search and rescue (SAR) and disaster response support.  The CAT Team is forward deployed in the theater of operations to establish a Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and coordinate with FEMA, local, state and federal law enforcement personnel actively engaged in disaster response efforts.  The CAT Team conducts SAR and provides interactive facilitation between employers and Emergency Response Teams to locate and assist employees in need.
  3. We provide: Consulting & Response Planning
    A comprehensive disaster management plan mitigates a company’s losses and potential downtime. Developing a detailed emergency management plan in conjunction with disaster specialists prepares a company to meet immediate personnel and operational needs. It also helps solidify partnerships among local law enforcement and emergency personnel that can be relied on when disaster strikes.
  4. We provide: Asset Protection & Security Personnel
    Even when a disaster occurs; an organization still has a legal and moral responsibility to provide a safe environment during that chaotic time. Protection of assets, property, employees, and information is vital. Contract security personnel will provide additional protection. Highly qualified security and response personnel are trained to make rational decisions under adverse conditions. They will control access to the affected sites, monitor suppliers moving in and out of the area, ensure only appropriate employees are frequenting critical areas, as well as record and audit assets.
  5. We provide: Logistical Support & Base Camps
    Following a disaster, many employees must continue to work in compromised facilities. Corporations may also want to consider the safe housing of employees families so they can engage in worry free “resumption of operations’ for their employer. The ability to supply support services by providing base camps and a large fleet of specialty trailers is essential. Specifically built and equipped trailers that provide logistical support during emergencies can be deployed rapidly, are completely self-contained, and can be set up anywhere. Kitchen trailers which produce culinary creations that are always fresh, appetizing and highly nutritious. Dormitory trailers, shower trailers, restroom facilities, and laundry trailers ensure employees, as well as relief workers, can stay clean and comfortable. If the company cannot continue to operate on-site, a centralized base camp with mobile power generation can be used as a temporary command post.
  6. We provide: Remediation Personnel & Skilled Trade Workers
    A temporary workforce can be assembled quickly to help the company affected by a natural disaster weather the storm. Bringing in ancillary staff with specific skills can minimize down time and relieve highly stressed employees. Workers are accustomed to working in remote locations or less-than-ideal conditions. Their goal will be clear – restore the area to pre-event conditions while eliminating unnecessary costs.
  7. We provide: Emergency Response Vehicles, Personnel & Equipment
    Liaison teams will help to ensure that local emergency personnel respond quickly to any medical situations. Trained medical personnel can even set up mobile triage units to ensure that the neediest cases receive fast attention. Should community assets become overtaxed, a pool of emergency vehicles and equipment can be stationed on a client’s site to provide necessary medical care and transport.

Other ways we can help:

  • Incident Management
  • Asset Protection
    • Facility Security
    • Personnel Security
    • Executive Protection
    • Basecamp Security
  • Aviation and Waterborne Assets
  • Evacuation Support

For assistance please contact:
Greg Pearson
President & CEO, FocusPoint International
861 SW 78th Avenue, Suite B200
[email protected]
866-340-8569

 

FocusPoint Intl CEO Greg Pearson interviewed at GBTA 2017 Convention

July 24th, 2017 No comments

FocusPoint International’s CEO Greg Pearson was interviewed at GBTA 2017 Convention in Boston as a part of the GBTA Industry Voices segment.

Cigna Global Health Benefits Launches Crisis Assistance Plus – A Solution for Globally Mobile Customers in an Unpredictable World

May 25th, 2017 No comments

Cigna-Global-Health-Benefits-SMT

CIGNA GLOBAL HEALTH BENEFITS LAUNCHES CRISIS ASSISTANCE PLUS – A SOLUTION FOR GLOBALLY MOBILE CUSTOMERS IN AN UNPREDICTABLE WORLD

23 May 2017

WILMINGTON, Del., 23 May, 2017 – Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI), through its globally mobile business segment, Cigna Global Health Benefits ® , today announces the launch of their newest solution, Crisis Assistance Plus TM (CAP), an enhancement to their suite of global health care products.

This solution allows for a worldwide, comprehensive crisis assistance program, powered by FocusPoint International®, and responds to the unique needs of Cigna’s globally mobile customers who currently do not have a program in place today under our 2-20 expat products and our MBA product for international business travellers. It helps promote peace of mind by providing services that include time-sensitive advice and coordinated in-country crisis assistance, as well as political evacuation services for nine different risks that impact, or have the potential to impact, them while on assignment or traveling on international business. In the event of a covered event, the CAP program provides customers and their covered dependents immediate access to rapid response teams and dedicated CAP managers who are deployed globally within 24 hours, experienced security personnel for field rescue, shelter in place and ground evacuations, and highly experienced kidnap-for-ransom and extortion-response specialists.

From natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes, to acts of terrorism, blackmail or extortion, hijacking and other violent crimes, CAP provides coverage for services of up to $250,000 per covered person, per incident. This unique and comprehensive service is included as a value added benefit and reinforces Cigna’s commitment to its customers and reputation in the marketplace as a leader in global health benefits.

Heather Schleeweis, Product Manager for North America, commented, “CAP is not only a market differentiator for Cigna, it also directly supports our mission of helping individuals improve their health, well-being and sense of security. Now more than ever, security threats are a concern for today’s global travellers. CAP enables us to provide our customers with comprehensive global health benefits that include peace of mind.”

Contact:

Cigna Corporation
Robyn R. Ray, +1 302 746 3338
[email protected]

Terrorism Strikes Again – The US and UK Ban Electronic Devices Larger Than a Cell Phone

March 22nd, 2017 No comments

laptop

 
Out of an abundance of caution, the US and UK have introduced new aviation security enhancements for select ‘last point of departure’ airports with commercial flights going to the United States and the United Kingdom.  The US Department of Homeland Security was quick to issue clarifications through a Q&A https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/03/21/qa-aviation-security-enhancements-select-last-point-departure-airports-commercial.  But unless you knew where to look, you most likely learned about this from the media, or worse yet, when you boarded your flight from one of the 10 Middle Eastern or North African airports impacted by the new ban.

 
As travelers scramble to understand the ban and come to grips with the inconvenience of giving up access to their laptops and tablets on long-haul flights, we are reminded of the impact terrorism has on our liberties.  Long gone are the days of casual encounters at airport bars and restaurants.  No more hanging out with a family member or friend until they board a plane or showing up with just minutes to spare and expect to board your flight with a bag in tow.  Terrorism and the insatiable pursuit of bad actors have forever altered our way of life.  So now it seems, air travel from select destinations have forced us back in time.  A time when reading a book and making an effort to engage in a conversation with the person sitting next to you was in vogue.  Oddly enough, the absence of technology in response to changing threat dynamics may increase our appetite to have meaningful conversations with complete strangers. Go figure!

 
The news of these changes and the inconvenience that comes with it will undoubtedly have an impact on leisure travel.  But what about business travel?  Several companies depend on their ability to access the markets directly and need to get work accomplished and stay connected through in-flight Wi-Fi.  How will the business community respond to the idea of checking in laptops and tablets?  I can already hear corporate security managers warning their executive teams about the very real possibility of theft, loss or damage to company property.  Not to mention the threat of data being compromised or theft of intellectual property.

 
I expect a visceral response by the business community to avoid flying directly to the US and UK from the ten airports impacted by the ban.   But if the airline industry and the business community are smart enough to make those adjustments – don’t you think the bad actors are as well?

Categories: Travel Tags:

Politics & Travel – Are You At Risk?

March 9th, 2017 No comments

Tube or taxi?  It’s not raining – so why don’t we just walk?

It turns out; that was the easiest question I had to face all day.  I was in London, England on what I thought would be just another typical business trip.  Several people from my firm were flying in to attend a conference in the Kensington area of London.  I flew in ahead of my team with a colleague to attend some business meetings with local clients.  Wanting to take advantage of the dry skies, my colleague and I decided to walk to our first meeting.  What we encountered along the way and in the days that followed was anything but typical.

As we walked past the U.S. Embassy in the affluent Mayfair area in the West End of London, a small group of protesters approached us and asked us if we were Americans.  Before I could say yes, they followed up their initial inquiry by asking us if we were for Trump or against him.  I was not naïve to the fact that Donald Trump’s recent victory in the U.S. election had ignited global protests.  However, I did not expect to be directly impacted, especially in London.

As a Security and Crisis Response Consultant, I understand the need to remain apolitical.  I cannot take sides or give preferential treatment to either side of the aisle.  So I responded by saying, “it’s a beautiful day outside, you all have a great day,” pretending to hear something completely different than what we were asked.  Continuing to walk past the group with a purpose allowed us to put enough daylight between the protesters and us to avoid any further confrontation.

About 10 minutes later I received a call from one of my employees that had just cleared customs at London’s Heathrow Airport.  He said that he probably would not make it to the meeting scheduled for later that day.  A group of protesters chained themselves together on the train tracks leading out of Heathrow in protest to a possible visit by President Trump to the UK.  The protest disrupted travel into and out of the airport.  My employee went on to say that, “per our travel security policy, I’ve already contacted our GSOC (Global Security Operations Center) and informed them of what was going on.”  I advised my employee to take a taxi and contact us once he settled in.  He indicated that the GSOC was aware of the protest, had eyes on his location via our MyTrac app and also advised him to take a taxi to his hotel.

As a result of that conversation and the run-in with protesters earlier that morning, my colleague and I decided to take a cab to our next meeting.  We were met by a local partner that was joining us for our next meeting.  All in agreement, we hailed a taxi and off we went.

Along the way, our local partner, a UK citizen of Middle Eastern descent, struck up a conversation with the taxi driver.  The taxi driver asked our partner where he was originally from.  He replied that he was born in Lebanon, but grew up in Liverpool.  The taxi driver then followed up by saying, “it sounds like you two are Americans.”  I replied yes, and then asked him if he lived in London his whole life.  Ignoring my question, the taxi driver then proceeded to say, “President Trump says not all Muslims are Terrorists, but all Terrorists are Muslims, and I believe him.”

At that point, the tension in the cab was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  Sensing our partner’s frustration and not wanting the situation to get any worse, I told the cab driver that we were fine getting out at the next light.  I then mentioned that we were off to a football match later that evening and asked him who he thought would win. I hoped that changing the subject would de-escalate the situation.  It worked, and once we arrived at the intersection, I paid and quickly escorted my colleague and our partner out of the cab.

Political risk is often viewed as a destination-based issue, and not something that follows us from our home country.  However, the situations we encountered that day and several times over the course of the week were stark reminders that security risks created by the political climate are not limited to the places we go.  In fact, the political climate in our home country is just as likely to create security risks and have a direct impact on our safety while traveling abroad as it does at home.

In closing, whether you are traveling for business or leisure, we need to do our best to understand the destination-based travel risks that could impact us – before we travel.  We also need to be ever mindful that the events playing out in our home country can and most likely will follow us to the destinations we visit.  There are a plethora of other things you should take into consideration when planning to travel abroad.  The overarching takeaway is to ensure you have a plan to address health, safety and security events that impact or have the potential to affect you during your journey.