Emergencies can arise at anytime without warning. As a security officer your job is to respond appropriately to mitigate injury and loss of property. Whenever an emergency arises, here are a few steps to help you respond effectively:
1. Clear the hazard area - Identify an area where the hazard exists then immediately direct people to evacuate the area. Preventing additional harm to others is a priority.
2. Summon assistance - Even "small emergencies" will require assistance. Call for help as soon as possible - fellow officers, emergency medical services and others. Starting a response as soon as possible will reduce the time for help to arrive.
3. Maintain calm while giving clear commands - Emergency scenes are chaotic, stressful. Doing your best to maintain a calm presence through your voice and demeanor while giving clear commands to others will reduce the chaos for those present. It's difficult, but maintaining your composure through a calm demeanor will greatly help others while increasing the chances they will follow your commands.
Prevention of further injury or damage is the first priorities in any emergency situation. Understand that you will not be able to handle the emergency alone and will need assistance. Clearing the hazard area, summoning assistance, and maintaining a calm demeanor will help you prevent further injury or damage to property.
Rarely, not often, as a security officer you may be called upon to assist in directing vehicle and pedestrian traffic on a property. Here are some tips on how to direct traffic safely:
Traffic directing tips:
Safety is always the first priority when directing traffic, your safety and the safety of drivers and pedestrians. Don't rush drivers and make sure you are always alert to what drivers and pedestrians are doing around you.
Security officer safety is critical, not only to you the officer, but to those you are assigned to protect. Chances are, your client hired security officers because there were safety or security problems at the site. Here is a simple reminder for you to ensure you maintain your focus on being safe.
ABC - simple acronym that stands for "Alert, Be Prepared, and Call for assistance".
"Alert" - Officer's need to be alert to changes in their environment that pose a safety/security risk. Keeping your head on a swivel, constantly scanning the area around you will increase your awareness. Being alert includes understanding what is happening just beyond the property you are assigned to protect as local neighborhood activities can encroach on the property. Reviewing local news, to include weather forecasts, making sure you obtain information from fellow officers and employees at the site will ensure you are alert to potential activities that may occur.
"Be Prepared" - Many days can be boring which is fortunate for the client and the officer. As a security officer, you need to be prepared to react to a potential emergency situation as they often occur without warning. Reviewing emergency action plans, post orders, and mentally creating checklists of actions to take in a potential emergency will not only keep you prepared, but will keep you mentally alert. Being prepared also includes ensuring you have all the equipment you need and that it is in working order, e.g. charging flashlights, radio's before your shift, etc.
"Call for Assistance" - Calling for assistance at the earliest opportunity allows time for first responder's, fellow security officers or local police, to arrive in time. Some security officers hesitate in calling for assistance as they begin to determine what is occurring. Sometimes, calling for assistance can help deescalate a situation. It's critical that as a security officer, you remember that your safety is critical to ensuring the safety of others on site. If overtaken by a suspect, without others to assist, the suspect could then threaten others on the property.
The ABC's of safety are intended as a reminder for security officers when beginning duty. Each day as you travel to work think of the "ABC's of Officer Safety" to help mentally prepare you for work. Add your own tasks, or practices to each category to increase your safety awareness.
As a security officer one of your most powerful tools is the power of observation. Use you powers of observation to:
Using your power of observation keeps you alert, prepared to react if needed. Remaining alert to your surroundings, which includes those around you, will increase your safety while increasing your opportunities to prevent or catch someone in an act of violence or other criminal activity.
Security officers often interact with individuals that are angry, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and/or those that are committing crimes. The goal of any such encounter is to end it without the need for a physical confrontation. So, how are security officers trained to use verbal de-escalation techniques to calm a tense, potentially volatile situation?:
These are a few of the techniques that security officers learn from training and experience to use in a tense situation. The goal is to have a calm outcome. Unfortunately they do not always work, but employing these techniques and others will increase the chances of a positive outcome for all.
More private businesses today are turning to private security to protect their employees, customers, and premises. As the number of security officers employed climb, we can expect to see increased incidents of violence against security officers, decreasing security officer safety.
There are many factors that are increasing the dangers to security officers as well:
1. Mental health - Individuals with mental health issues create unique challenges for security officers. Their behaviors, at times, can be erratic which causes concerns for employees and patrons alike. It is important to note, that most individuals suffering from mental illness do not become violent. But, as they interact with others, others may react violently due to fear, or failing to understand, which places security officers in harms way as they respond to altercations.
2. Violence on the increase - Violence, the actual act, is increasing. In other words, the violence is becoming more violent. Statistics can be tricky. Statistics often do not reflect the amount of violence being used, rather they count as one act.
3. Changing lifestyles/influences - Children today are growing up under different circumstances than what their parents experienced. (Every generation can say this) Many ponder how reduced social skill abilities, which are being replaced by the use of social media, may increase the potential for violent acts. The concept is that younger adults are less likely to seek out non-violent solutions to confrontation, opting to react violently. Although there are no clear indicators yet, as time is needed to gather statistics, there is the potential for increases in violent acts.
So how do security companies and officers respond?
Unfortunately, assaults on security officers are expected to increase in the coming years. Security officers require additional training, and being reminded to always be alert to their environment for signs of potential violence.
Member of the Guardstar Academy Staff. All Guardstar Academy staff are experienced law enforcement, security professionals and/or private investigators.