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What Can The Club's Lighting Technician Do If There’s An Active Shooter?

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Following recent events like an attack at a Paris concert hall in 2015 and the recent shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, many are asking what precautions can be taken to save lives.

After the recent attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, lighting designers began discussing online ideas on how lighting could save lives and possibly slow down shooters.

Paul Yeates has a masters from the University of Connecticut in lighting design and teaches lighting and scenic design at the University of Kentucky. He said there are basically two questions to consider when thinking about lighting when there’s an active shooter.

“Do we as lighting designers find a way to pull the focus to the shooter? Or do we as lighting personnel attempt to find a way to warn the crowd and help them get out of their safely?" Yeates said. "What is the best thing?”

Yeates said lighting design is all about focus. If you pull the focus to the shooter by bringing up the lights, that could help the shooter find their targets, but, it could help everybody see.

Also, the person in charge of the lights is often placed in a vulnerable location. Sometimes they are on a raised platform making them one of the first possible targets.

“So it’s becoming a big worry. Not only for the people and the patrons who are listening and watching the concerts and being in the clubs, but also for the technicians who are running these particular shows for them as well," Yeates said.

Also, there’s no protocol nationwide on lighting and light design. In some older theaters and clubs, the light switch can be far down a hall away from the technician.

According to Yeates, it’s disappointing this conversation has to happen, especially about something that’s meant to be fun.

“And it’s kind of a terribl[y] sad thing that we have to plan for this in our day in age where, you know, we have all of this fancy lighting technology, moving lights. We can change colors. We can do all sorts of fun stuff," Yeates said. "But we’re going to have to sink our time and energies in to keeping the population safe. Which is really a tragedy that we have to be thinking about this now.”