Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tactical Thoughts on New Years Eve

The fact that I will be spending my New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip with hundreds of thousands of other people is pretty much a given...unfortunately.  I would rather be home in front of the TV.  But the spouse is fairly insistent since it is a "once in a lifetime event" and also because in our 25+ years of marriage it is just part of the deal that if something is super important to one of us, the other will go along with it whether they are actually thrilled about the prospect or not (such as when I decided that we should sell everything we own and travel for the last year--the spouse was less than inspired but it was very important to I guess this is payback).  Anyway...  Since I get to be one of the civilians thrown into the mess instead of one of the planners of how to coral the mess (although visions of disaster mitigation are still dancing in my head, retired or not), here's some of my thoughts on our upcoming adventure:
  • We will park off the Strip and walk to our destination since driving anywhere near there will be a disaster in and of itself.  Plus I would like to be home sometime before 4am and that involves getting away from the traffic as quickly as possible even if it includes walking a mile or so.
  • We will of course dress for the occasion.  I've seen the news clips of scantily clad females in spike heeled shoes walking down the Strip celebrating New Years but that seems insane.  Walking shoes, check.  Jacket, check. Maybe even gloves--it gets cold in the desert at night.
  • Any important items that we carry will be zippered into the inside pockets of our jackets.  A crowd that big is a pickpocket's dream so carrying your wallet in your back pocket is out, along with any other item that you could be relieved of quickly.
  • I will also carry a small backpack (on my front, not on my back where again, thieve could get at its contents) which will contain: a bottle of water, a small first aid kit, a knife, a bandanna, goggles, a square of fluorescent fabric, a couple of granola bars, a flashlight, matches, para cord, zip ties, packet of tissue, and large garbage bag.
  • Carrying a firearm is, well, still something I will do but I don't recommend it for the partying masses.  First, someone who is drunk shouldn't be in control of a firearm.  Second, although an active shooter scenario is always a possibility, our plan would be to duck, cover, and get the Hell out of there in such an instance.  NO ONE wants to find themselves in a situation where you are returning fire with a crowd behind your target (if you can even find your target, as hearing shots from the crowd as opposed to standing right next to the shooter makes it difficult to identify your target in the first place).  So concealed carry is OK but actually using your firearm in a crowd is definitely not.
  • We will stay on the fringes of the crowd, not in the middle of the swarming masses.  And also check and re-check for exits to use in the event of a crisis.  In a set venue this is simple but in a large outdoor venue exits can move (as people move, barricades are moved, etc).  I will also be keeping an eye on visible security (which also moves in such a venue), the crowd overall (you can generally tell when something is about to happen by looking at the overall pattern of the crowd), and any other things that have the potential to turn into a threat.
  • We have a plan for when and where to meet if we get separated.  Even though we each have a phone, there are a number of reasons that we may not be able to contact each other this way (the circuits may be overloaded, we may not be able to hear over the roar of the crowd, and texting is difficult if you are crowded up against people).  Of course the plan is multi-faceted with three different places to meet, in order, and three different times to meet (in case we can't get to location one, for example).
  • Of course I will check for dangers as we go through the event.  Generally in large crowds you want to avoid bad weather like thunder and lightening (shouldn't happen here), the crush of the crowd (such as a stampede which could lead to being crushed or trampled), and other obvious dangers (fire, fights, getting between law enforcement and whatever group they are trying to control), etc.
  • We will be on our best behaviour, as usual.  In other words we won't be drunk, belligerent, or looking for a brawl which can quickly get out of hand in a crowd situation.  That's basically how melees start.  If you can tell there may be a problem, your best bet is to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible then leave the area as quickly as possible. 
  • We will be responsible for our own safety.  Although I am assuming there will be plenty of security at the event (an added bonus is the large number of security personnel in the casinos and a military base near by...otherwise the nearest reinforcements are five hours away), in these types of situations, taking care of each individual in the crowd is not at the top of law enforcement's priority list.  Such a thing would be impossible of course, due to the number of law enforcement versus the number of people in the crowd, plus LE is there for over all crowd control and major disaster mitigation.
  • Finally, I hope to get in and get out as quickly as possible.  We plan to arrive sometime past 10pm and leave shortly after midnight while the crowd parties on. 
I hope you all have a safe and pleasant New Year's Eve.


  1. Definitely enjoy your blog, thanks for the insightful posts through out the year.

    I'm not a huge fan of being in crowds myself - despite living in New York City and dealing with throngs of folks day-in day-out. Saying that, it sounds like you are well prepared and I've also learned that the "right" mindset is also needed to thrive/survive/be relaxed during these types of events.

    I'm sure the 'misses' will be thrilled and sounds like it could be a fun way to bring in the new year. Enjoy!

  2. I like your website and use it alot. That being said, I think you are being a total buzz-kill for your wife and yourself on this one! Have fun, its part of life and don't be so high strung on just going out on NYE in one our most fun towns.

  3. It should be an interesting evening but usually, as DanSip pointed out, I am pretty much a buzzkill when there are bunches of intoxicated people together because I am overly concerned about the aftermath--fights, riots, drunk drivers, people dying, etc...hopefully none of that happens this year...

  4. Well, did you survive New Years in Vegas??