Following the devastating Manchester Arena bombing, which killed 22 people and injured 119 others, security experts are sharing their advice on what event goers should do in case of emergency.
“For any concert, whether it’s indoor or out, I always recommend that you maintain what we call situational awareness,” Patrick Brosnan, former NYPD detective and founder of Brosnan Risk Consultants LTD, tells PEOPLE.
“Situational awareness is a combination of common sense and growing eyes in the back of your head,” explains Brosnan. “You know what’s going on around you, you’re cognizant and aware of your surroundings and you behave accordingly.”
And “if you see something that’s suspicious” like a suspicious package, Brosnan suggests “that you vacate that area and locate the authorities.”
Then, “you advise them or you advise management — and let the professionals handle it from there,” says Brosnan. “Law enforcement only has a finite amount of eyes, so if they enlist the eyes and ears of all the civilians in these venues, they can gather intelligence to make better decisions and make them faster.”
For instance, if a concertgoer “observes a male in a bulletproof vest,” then they should alert the authorities, says Brosnan. “That’s unusual behavior.”
Explains Brosnan: “It’s unusual and suspicious — particularly in the context and framework of today’s society. He may be a police officer or it may turn out to be someone who is looking to do harm. Be aware of your surroundings.”
Christopher Hagon, a managing partner at Incident Management Group, a Florida-based international security consulting firm, also emphasizes that one of the most important things people can do is to be aware of their surroundings.
“The main point is you have to improve your awareness: ‘Is this place that I plan to go a risk?'” he explains. “[But] you can’t become paranoid over it because you’ll never do anything.”
In addition, Hagon, a former security officer for the royal family, recommends that if people do choose to put “these awareness procedures” into place that it “be consistent and long term.”
As far as assessing risks, Hagon notes that the focus seems to be “on places and times when there are a lot of people together or in crowded market places.”
“One of the things that’s so dangerous about this is that [concerts] occur at fixed times,” explains Hagon. “With these concerts, you can’t suddenly say, ‘We’re going to move this from Tuesday to Wednesday.’ It’s a fixed time, so therefore it’s more vulnerable.”
And when it comes to getting out of a situation, Brosnan’s top advice is: “Run at top speed.”
“The fact is your safety is paramount,” he explains. “And you can never reverse a million years of ingrained ‘fight or flight.'”
Brosnan also suggests making a plan with family and friends before an outing. “Have a plan,” he says. “Now, everyone has a cell and you have the ability to text and communicate seamlessly, so there’s really no need for any ambiguity about where anyone is at any time.”
He continues: “If you increase set times and increase set meeting locations, you certainly mitigate some of the issues that could develop where you separate for a prolonged period of time. I strongly urge that.”
On Monday, what began as a fun night out ended in tragedy when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device after an Ariana Grande concert.
The audience in Manchester included many children and teens, with their accompanying parents, and after the blast, eyewitnesses described to PEOPLE a scene of chaos and fear.