Element 2 – Organise and Complete Daily Work Tasks
It is a good idea to arrive at the work location (venue, stadium, factory) approximately 10 minutes before the shift is scheduled to start. Use this time to check and confirm the assignment instructions. Any changes to the usual routine or procedures, problems from the previous shift, damage or suspicious activity can be communicated prior to starting work. Handover of keys, radios and any other equipment can be managed during this time. Likewise your relief should arrive 10 minutes early so you can conduct the shift changeover.
Security work by nature needs to be structured and organised, and supported by well documented procedures. The standing assignment instructions from the client will identify the specific tasks the client wants you to perform, whereas your company’s standard operating procedures will identify how these tasks are to be performed.
Working with people is not an exact science. When alcohol, for example, is added to the scene it is essential to have a plan and follow procedures, but stay flexible enough to adapt to situations. Common sense is important.
One problem often experienced by security officers is the lack of clear instructions. This leaves you unclear of your duties and open to blame in the event of an accident or incident leading to injury or loss. If you are unsure of your role, ask; what is my specific job?
Some work situations don’t have clear and structured procedures. In some cases one manager will ‘overrule’ a fellow manager, leaving the security officer in ‘limbo’ as to what is required. Traditionally mobile patrol officers are allocated patrol runs that a far too large to effectively patrol in one night. When confronted with a situation that is confusing or seemingly unachievable, revert to your training, your workplace induction and the standard operating procedures.
Scheduling and prioritising work is made easier by modern electronic devices. Smart phones, iPads and similar can be programmed with your shifts several months in advance, and are easy to update and change. Take the time to identify the specific basic tasks of your role, don’t voluntarily take additional tasks on if you are already suffering from a time shortage.
There are only so many hours in a shift and you have a minimum of specific tasks to perform. In order to cover all of your responsibilities, you will need to have a basic plan for your shift. This is called time management.
In the event of a situation arising where you will have to choose between performing two tasks, you should choose the highest priority task.
An example of a high priority task would be a fire alarm in a shopping complex or an immediate assistance required (urgent backup) call from a co-worker. These would outrank most other considerations. Depending on the level of threat you may have to drop everything you are currently doing and respond immediately.
With regards to groups, the essence of a good security operator is an ability to control the group by understanding group structures and characteristics, so that they can be manipulated in order to preserve the peace.
Stress can be caused by any number of factors. Being late for a shift, disorganised, being reprimanded by the supervisor or confronting an argumentative patron are just a few examples of situations that will elevate the stress level of a security officer.
Effects of stress can include:
- Minimal verbal communication
- Negative body language
- Inability to concentrate
- Increasing aggression
- Uncoordinated movements
One internal consequence of this increased stress will be an increased heart rate. An increased heart rate affects the body’s motor skills. Anxiety and stress will impede your ability to perform certain functions, particularly functions that employ fine motor skills.
Heart rate / motor skills
- Fine motor skills (hand eye coordination) deteriorate once heart rate is over 115bpm
- Complex motor skills (more than one muscle group, complex motor actions) deteriorate once heart rate is over 145bpm
- Gross motor skills (pushing, pulling, running – large muscle groups) enhanced as working heart rate exceeds 150bpm
Inverted ‘U’ hypotheses
Increases in stress / arousal can improve performance up to a certain point. It is reasonable to maintain a certain level of arousal when at work, particularly in a venue or premises that has a reputation for violence. After a certain point, elevation of the heart rate will adversely affect performance. This is the relationship between performance and arousal. The same concept is widely used in competitive sport.
An important consideration with the inverted U hypothesis and heart rate is simply this, without the activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the associated hormonal changes (i.e. adrenaline) then increased heart rate alone will not affect performance. For example, if you run around the block and get your heart rate up to 190bpm, this will not affect your fine or complex motor skills or cause SNS activation. Conversely, a 140kg emotionally disturbed person with a knife in your immediate vicinity will probably cause a SNS activation and cause your heart rate to escalate beyond 190bpm with the associated effects on your physical abilities.
Body responses to SNS activation include:
- Hand / eye coordination decreases as pulse increases (fine motor skills)
- Cognitive deterioration. Reaction time increases by up to 400%. Critical decision making is affected as cognitive processes go too fast – panicky, indecisive
- Tachypsychia results in unreliable mental track. This includes time space distortion / memory loss – slow motion – how many rounds?
- Visual performance changes – binocular dominant, loss of peripheral vision, loss of depth perception, loss of near vision, reduction of night vision
- General muscle tightening
- Auditory exclusion – reduction in hearing capability as eyesight becomes the dominant sense
- Unrealistic expectations – role models, superheroes, basic instinct to run
All of this compounds the difficulty in dealing with a potentially lethal situation and increases the need for reality-based training.
For maximum effectiveness, training should be simple, and rely predominantly on gross motor skills and stimulus response style training. The training should be as realistic as is safely possible with an emphasis on simulation style training utilising role players, padded suits (like the Redman Suit by Macho), duty equipment and even paintballs. Decision making skills and operation under stress should be emphasised.
The immediate effects of a stressful encounter are the psychological aspects of shock and reaction. In the “shock stage”, a normal reaction will include detachment or isolation. This is where the whole situation is like watching the confrontation on TV or in slow motion. The other aspect of this stage is disorientation where you may feel stunned, dazed or apathetic.
Physical reactions can include: vomiting, crying, involuntary urination or defecation, dizziness, perspiration, the shakes and blurry vision. Post traumatic effects can be extremely serious and will usually require professional help, although we all may think prior to any incident that we would not need this help.
It is most important that we do not fall into the trap of the denial syndrome. The usual situation here is for us to say; “it doesn’t really bother me at all”. This is an unhealthy defence mechanism, and recognising that we may have problems as a result of the incident is the first major step in overcoming the problems.
Critical incident debriefing
After any incident involving high levels of trauma and stress, security personnel should undergo a Critical Incident Debriefing (CID). The CID is a confidential meeting to discuss the perceptions and effects of the incident on security personnel. Information incorporated in the incident reports will also be used as a source of information.
The CID will evaluate the performance of staff in relation to the specific incident and will expose shortcomings in planning and training. This enables deficiencies in operational planning to be rectified and standard operating procedures to be altered to assist in preventing a repeat of the incident. This is particularly relevant in reducing the effects of post traumatic stress. You may be aware that military personnel will be ‘debriefed’ after returning from active service. This process applies the same principles in the private sector and will apply in a CID.
Recognised stress management techniques include:
- Conscious use of personal recreational activities
- Formal debriefing processes
- Informal exploration of incidents with team members and supporters
- Review of practice and resources
Ethics are the basic principles of a code of behaviour for a professional security person. A high standard of ethics is essential for the good reputation of the profession. With cameras available in virtually all phones and capable of taking video footage, as well as digital photos that can be posted on the internet within minutes, it is imperative that your conduct is beyond reproach at all times.
|During August 2012, Prince Harry (3rd in line for the thrown of Great Britain) was photographed naked with female ‘guests’ in a hotel room in Las Vegas. The photos went ‘viral’ immediately.
It is interesting to note that the bodyguards assigned to Prince Harry were held accountable. Perhaps their ethics wasn’t what it should have been at the time.
If you are on mobile patrol, obey the road laws at all times. You have no extra rights to speed or disobey traffic laws. No security officer has the right to break any laws, and in fact, it is your duty to ensure that all laws are complied with by all parties you are involved with, especially yourself.