I recently referenced a Newsweek article from Oct 19th
“EVENT WORKERS SAY THEY AREN'T TRAINED ON HOW TO HANDLE MASS SHOOTINGS, AND IT SCARES THEM”
I commented how it is the individual security guard and the security company’s responsibility to be trained. This got some agreements and some less then agreeable comments and private messages. I will now address this topic in a little more detail. Disclaimer I know I will be brushing in broad strokes and there are exceptions, however the exceptions do not make the rule on this particular topic.
Before I get into discussing the responsibilities of the individuals and the security companies I would pose this observation. Since the Oct 1st massacre here in Las Vegas there have been several “knee jerk” reactions. The common answer seems to be, add additional security staff. Although this is a good idea, it is flawed and here is why; If you have 10 untrained guards and the answer is to add 5 or 10 more untrained guards what have you really done? The answer is you have merely increase payroll, and maybe added more of a visual deterrence. By taking these measures companies have incurred greater cost just to increased the number of untrained individuals thus accomplishing nothing.
The night of the event there was squads of Metro Police officers, what did that stop? The point is adding numbers means nothing. Instead why not put the resources that would be used to hire the 5-10 new guards into training the existing guards? (The number of guards is arbitrary and it is only used as an example in this observation.)
I will first address the Security Companies and their ultimate responsibility. Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary the term security guard is defined as;
“a person whose job is to guard a place (such as a store or museum) and make sure the people and things in it are not harmed”
So would it not make proper sense that the companies that employ Security Guards provide training to handle a variety of emergency situations? Plenty of companies have their check the box “on-line” training which shows how well trained and versed their agents are, however are they really?
Security Companies have lost Millions of dollars in lawsuits because of the lack of training they provide to their security guards. As an example, the case against U.S. Security Associates, Inc., Masciantonio v. United States Sec. Assocs., (Pa. 1 D. 2016). See Also Wilson v. United States Sec. Assocs., (Pa. 1 D. 2016) They lost $38 million dollars in punitive damages. Another example is here in Las Vegas where an organization (Marquee Night Club) lost $168 million because of actions their security guards took. These are just two examples of losses, and the list is very extensive of where security companies have lost due to negligence.
Imagine for a moment if security companies invested in proper training. They could reduce their liabilities, plus as an added bonus they would actually be providing trained security guards. With properly trained guards they would be more effective and efficient at protecting the public and have the abilities to respond to emergency situations.
As demonstrated Oct 1st emergency medical training is a must for everyone. If you are a security company providing ANY security services and your team members do not have trauma emergency medical training, you are failing your employees the companies who hire you and the public. For those concerned that emergency trauma care is to expensive and to difficult to train, I accept your challenge. Equipping security guards with the knowledge of how to apply direct pressure, tourniquets and pressure dressings could save lives. It takes very minimal equipment and in two hours you could train staff on some simple techniques. The excuse of it cost to much and it takes to much time, is tired and outdated.
I realize running a security company is expensive and has its unique challenges. However, if you can’t properly train your staff, who you hire to help protect the public, I have a suggestion, close your doors and pick another industry. There really is no excuse for security organizations not to provide additional proper training for those on the ground. Im confident that executives run off to big ticket events such as the ASIS convention spending tens of thousands of dollars per event. Its time that security companies invest in the security guards they employ.
As a professional I look at this as a form of theft. I’m sure the organizations who hire security companies expect a level of security to be provided. I’m sure they also assume that the security company is conducting critical training for the staff that is charged with providing security. What these organizations doesn't know is all they are getting for their money, is a warm body to stand in a location for a set period of time. I see this with Executive Protection all the time. The client may pay $100+ and hour and they get a guard that is getting paid $35 and hour. Again I know operating a business is costly but the level of expectation verse what is delivered is shocking. I would recommend reading a separate article I wrote on this topic. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hiring-security-providing-james-cameron-cpp/
Now lets talk about the individual security guards responsibility. Are they low paid, YES, I think we can all agree to that. However, if someone has selected to be a security guard as their chosen profession then it’s their responsibility to make sure they have the skill sets required for the job. I think back to my military days and there was a creed that played a very important role in my career. The Ranger Creed, I won’t quote it all however many parts of it relates to the everyday life of a security guard, whether they think so or not. Here are a few sample stanza’s (I’m cutting selected verses only from the creed as it would apply to security guards. Any former Rangers I know the creed please don’t send hate mail RLTW)
Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold prestige, and honor.
Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might.
I know some will think that’s great for a soldier but security guards are not soldiers. True, however if an individual has selected the career field of being a security guard they have a duty and responsibility to conduct themselves in the manner in which I just quoted. They also have a responsibility for their own ongoing professional development. The general public will look to them in emergency situations and if they are unprepared its no ones fault but their own. After all this is what they signed up for and they should be aware of what the job requires of them.
No matter what job or career field people decide to go into, there is always a level of out of pocket professional development that we all have to pay for and do. As a curiosity I would like to see a survey done on what working security guards think good training and topics are for their chosen profession. I imagine firearms would be the top of the list however that would be utilized less then 1% of the time. Having been in executive protection for the past 10+ years I also see many that choose to spend thousands of dollars (some up to tens of thousands of dollars) on EP schools. Are there good schools out there, yes however how many of those same students wouldn't pay $50-$300 for classes such as TCCC, TECC or B-Con? Those classes are a minimal investment in time and money and could actually make a difference if needed. However since those classes are not as flashy and as cool as running and gunning they get bypassed. The irony is that most that spend top money for EP schools end up being security guards even after that large investment.
I would venture to say most are not subject matter experts in their chosen profession nor put any effort into becoming a SME. Many simply go to work to clock the time and collect a check. Of course I understand a security guard is a entry level position, however how many investigate what the next level is? This might be seen as being harsh but as I said earlier this is broad strokes.
As previously mentioned and as demonstrated on Oct 1st emergency medical training is a must for everyone. If you are a security guard and you do not have trauma emergency medical training, you are failing. The excuse of it cost to much and it takes to much time, is also tired and outdated.
To circle back to how security companies can influence an individual. First, they don’t educate and challenge the staff. Encouragement can be a great motivator for people. Second, they keep staff who clearly are not right for the position. We have all seen security guards who are better suited doing something, anything other than being a security guard.
I believe if your not part of the solution you are part of the problem. For my part I have reached out to several security companies and individuals offering quality training. I have offered some free training other training at minimal cost. The point is I am trying to help my industry, and my city become better prepared for the next attack, because its coming.
As an example I have reached out to several security guards regarding a cost effective certified B-Con course(bleeding control, training which is acknowledged by National Associate of Emergency Medical Technicians - NAEMT and the College of Surgeons) that would be beneficial to them for mass casualty situations. I am flying out a certified instructor to teach this course for a very minimal cost out of pocket ($50.00 per) to the students. How many responses and sign ups have I received….Zero….
As an industry, we need to have a serious hard look at ourselves and be honest. There are men and woman who are great however the lack luster ones far exceed the stellar ones. That goes for management all the way down the chain. We need to stop hiding behind the excuse of “it cost too much” for training. I’m sure money and resources could be found if people would look.