Element 2 – Deal with Emergency Situations
In an emergency situation, clients, customers, patrons and often co-workers will look to you, as the security officer, for direction. While it is easy to say; ‘remain calm’, actually remaining calm, fulfilling safety obligations and managing other people who may not be remaining calm is not easy. General guidelines to follow in an emergency are represented in the table below.
One strategy to achieve a positive outcome from an emergency situation is to read and understand emergency procedures before the emergency occurs. Response to emergency evacuation can vary slightly depending on the situation causing the evacuation. Typically fire and bomb threat, while both very serious, have different procedures to follow and should be understood before the emergency occurs.
As soon as you arrive on a new site, check, review and double check emergency procedures, the location of emergency equipment and the role you must take in an emergency situation. Once you are familiar with the site requirements, plan for the actual application of the requirements.
- Contact backup / support
- Emergency Services:
- Fire brigade
- Emergency rescue
- SES service
- First aid officer
A fire incident can present an extremely dangerous situation for people and property. Even a small fire in a waste paper bin can become out of control very quickly. Most work situations will ask a security officer to be nominated as a warden. He / she will be in a position to handle liaison between the officer in charge of the responding fire service unit and the security and management of premises.
Instructions from the fire service must be followed. When security personnel are not trained in fire-fighting, they should not attempt to fight fires unless it is safe to do so.
R = Remove all persons in immediate danger to safety
A = Activate manual pull station AND call or have someone call 000
C = Close doors and fire shutters to prevent the spread of smoke and fire
E = Extinguish the fire if safe to do so
Licensing legislation require security personnel to hold a current first aid qualification. Part of the training requirements to attain this qualification include basic evaluation of a first aid or medical situation with a view to providing immediate and initial care.
The most recent first aid protocols include; ‘send for help’ as part of the initial evaluation procedure. ‘Help’ may be a more qualified first aider and / or the ambulance. When ambulance officers or a doctor are present, allow them to assume control of the situation. This allows security personnel to do the job of controlling the area or crowd to prevent further incidents and to enable effective treatment of those injured.
In all cases, take names of those in control where possible, so as to facilitate a comprehensive incident report at a later date.
All personnel should have a good understanding of the warden system in operation at their place of work. Most workplaces will ask the security officer to take an active role as a warden or a member of the emergency response team. The warden system is an organised structure to be used in response to an emergency. The system relies on forward planning and nomination of people responsible for various tasks.
A well-developed warden system will include:
- Fire extinguishers (including type)
- Fire alarms
- Muster points
- First aid warden
- Fire warden
- Fire hose
- Location of ‘warden’ plan
Since the attacks of the World Trade Centre buildings, Australia’s approach to suspicious articles, bomb threats and similar has changed dramatically. Previously, many people assumed that bombings and bomb attacks never happen in Australia. Vigilance and proactive strategies have played a large part in the reduction and prevention of bomb threat incidents. The government’s campaign of; ‘be aware, not alarmed’ for example, has improved the public’s understanding of how serious a seemingly inconsequential item or action may be. With this in mind, the role of a security officer in this area has become more significant.
If a threat is received via a phone call, it is important to gain as much information from the caller as possible. This information will be of significant value to the police when they assess the threat. Information needed:
- Record the wording the caller uses
- Ask where the bomb has been placed and when it is set to go off
- Obtain a description of the bomb
- Ask why it has been placed
- Record as many details about the caller as possible, including sound of voice, age, knowledge of building premises where bomb is, background noises etc.
- Ask the caller to identify themselves in order to assess the validity of the call
The most common role of the security officer during a bomb threat situation will be to assist with a search of the premises in terms of advice. When deciding whether to search for bombs, liaise with the police or a bomb squad. The police may be more conversant with bomb types and current threat assessments. The experts are the military or a special section within the Australian Protective Service. Follow the instruction given by the authority in charge.
Security officers will be of value to the operation by assisting with employee movements and locations, sensitive areas, and general advice regarding the physical location of various parts of your place of employment. During the search check:
- Suspicious articles – size, shape, colour or sound
- Tampering with electrical wires or other installations
- Wire, string, explosive wrappings
- Signs of break in or illegal entry
- Suspicious containers
- Articles unaccounted for
In all cases, searches should be systematic and as thorough as time allows. Normally two people search an area at a time, allocating certain areas each. With a partner operating in the same area, people tend to be more careful and thorough.
Commence the search in the area of highest priority, if there is such an area. From there, work through the areas from the highest priority to the areas with the most access to the public and the external areas of the building, and then finally the more remote areas. The general rule when there is no specific priority area is to search the outside first, as it is the area most likely to contain a bomb, because it is easily accessed.
Inside searches commence with the public areas, like foyers and elevators, and then move to the rooms. In general it is better to leave the light switches and power alone, or for a very high risk situation, turn the power off outside before commencing the search. Search teams should have access to flashlights or auxiliary lighting.
In attacks against businesses, statistics indicate that bombs were planted:
- Outside the premises – 80%
- Building entry and public areas – 18%
- Inside the target office – 2%
In the case of discovering a suspicious article, remember “the 4 C’s”:
- Confirm the article needs attention
- Clear the area by following the evacuation plan
- Cordon off the area by restricting access to the site (in the Manchester bombing, people were injured 400 metres from the bomb)
- Control the situation and call the authorities
Bomb threat via mail
The risk posed by hazardous mail may be summarised as “injury, damage and disruption in the workplace”. Any risk mitigation treatments put in place by security personnel with regard to hazardous mail must address both the likelihood of an item of hazardous mail entering the workplace and the consequences if such an item should be found.
Security management and personnel can influence the “opportunity” element of the equation by identifying hazardous mail prior to it being opened. It is possible to identify many items of hazardous mail visually as they will have characteristics different from normal mail. The objective of an effective mail screening process is to identify those items which are different. A useful mail screening mnemonic is “Explosive Parcel” created by the Surrey Constabulary and published by the Australian Bomb Data Centre as part of their mail bomb awareness package.
Bomb threat telephone checklist
|Important questions to ask:|
|Where did you put it?|
|When is the bomb going to explode?|
|What does it looks like?|
|Exact wording of the threat:|
|General questions to ask:|
|How will the bomb explode? OR How will the substance be released?|
|Did you put it there?|
|Why did you put it there?|
|Bomb threat questions:|
|What type of bomb is it?|
|What is in the bomb?|
|What will make the bomb explode?|
|Chemical / biological threat questions:|
|What kind of substance is in it?||How much of the substance is there?|
|How will the substance be released?||Is the substance a liquid, powder or gas?|
|Other questions to ask:|
|What is your name?||Where are you?|
|What is your address?|
|Notes for after the call:|
|Accent (specify):||Any impediment (specify):|
|Voice (loud, soft, etc):||Speech (fast, slow, etc):|
|Dictation (clear, muffled):||Manner (calm, emotional, etc):|
|Did you recognise the caller?||If so, who do you think it was?|
|Was the caller familiar with the area?||Other:|
|Message read by caller:||Abusive:|
|Street noises:||House noises:|
|Local call noise:||STD:|
|Sex of the caller:||Estimated age:|
|Duration of call:||Number called:|
|Action (obtain details from supervisor)|
|Report call immediately to:||Phone number:|
|Name (print):||Telephone number:|
|Date call received:||Time received:|
An external emergency is classed as something that affects the premises and of which the owners or occupiers have no control over. For example:
- Lightning strikes
- Fallen trees
- Toxic fumes from nearby incidents
Major traffic incidents
Consterdine, P (1997) The Modern Bodyguard UK Protection Publications p215
 Rapp & Lesce, Bodyguarding: A Complete Manual, Loompanics pp140-141