Enhance your Security Environment
May 01, 2021

There is no magic button to initiate effective safety & security; it takes training and experience – lots of it. Is the cost worth it? 

A basic understanding of the concepts and training of the emergency management world can be a tremendous asset to the security specialist tasked with emergency planning and response. With a sense of crisis management principles and concepts, security professionals can be more efficient and effective in responding to an emerging crisis situation. 

The pillars of emergency management (prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery), are relevant to this discussion as Security Specialists are called upon daily to make decisions in these areas. Not only do the concepts and principles of emergency management support these pillars individually, they can also span across multiple pillars. 

As in Law Enforcement, the pillar that most traditionally relates to security is the response pillar. In speaking of prevention, security specialists certainly act as a deterrent and provide a safety net for those who rely on their presence. 

How can the security response be enhanced? 

Is there an added layer of response that might improve the overall security posture if infused at the front end of the hiring and training process? The Security Specialist will respond to the event with the operationally limited knowledge achieved their with training and the personal experiences they bring to the position. 

A comprehensive security posture consists of many different components and disciplines such as Guards, Loss Prevention Officers, Private Investigators and many other types and kinds of security. Most of these are found within the private sector to enhance site, personal or cyber safety. 

Individuals starting in the security business will frequently begin as the mall or building security specialist working for a security provider to a client. 

As one might expect, some of the larger providers may or may not provide training above the Provincial basics to receive a security licence to perform their duties to the minimum standard. Many employers will provide added training to enhance the officer’s KSA (knowledge, skills, and ability) to improve performance. 

Some of this training is intended to increase the officer’s safety, such as active attacker training, fire and life safety, and terrorist response training. 

Some of the more technical training platforms include Risk Assessments, Threat Risk Assess­ments, and Business Impact Analysis training that will elevate the theory and enhance the ability to perform at an advanced level. Such training packages are beneficial for either Law Enforcement or those in the Security field. The core principles exude interoperability between emergency services and public and private security. This unique training adds expense to the bottom-line cost of supplying this training level to a security officer and may be reflected in the remuneration rate.

Adding an emergency management layer of training to all Law Enforcement, public and private sector security specialists might sharpen the functions performed not only in the day-to-day work performance but even more intently during an emergency. 

Emergency Management (EM) is a distinct and under-utilized discipline that some seem to equate with disaster and large-scale emergencies only. However, in its purest form, EM covers many different levels of response to many diverse situations. Its pillars are prevalent concepts aimed at prevention. 

Preparedness

It’s not a great stretch to conclude that if your organization is prepared when the emergency occurs, it would help mitigate the issues that may impact your life or business substantially. The formal planning that occurs during the development of Emergency Plans and establishing well-developed policies and procedures will ensure everyone is ready to do what they do best when responding to the event. 
An emergency response plan promotes safety awareness and shows the organization’s commitment to the safety of employees. The lack of an emergency plan could lead to severe losses such as multiple casualties and the organization's possible financial collapse. 

Both the security provider and the client should have emergency plans that all organization members and the security specialists understand and train to meet the standard. Small events will be dealt with probably without anybody even noticing, but this can be good training for larger events in following standard policies and procedures. In a larger, more complex event, the response can be more efficient, effective, and safer for all with a faster recovery. 

Some emergency management training, such as Basic Emergency Manage­ment (BEM), Incident Management System (IMS), and introductory level Incident Command System (ICS100) courses, would undoubtedly elevate security professionals to a more efficient daily routine and work performance for dealing with even the most straightforward events. 

For supervisory staff, IMS/ICS200 will provide the KSAs to process some of the business components of the training to respond and lead during simple incidents, including those that may develop into a more complex event. Furthermore, it will ensure better interoperability with law enforcement if they arrive on site. 

Emergency Management professionals, including those in law enforcement, continue to preach the concept of “72-hour preparedness” and many citizens and organizations do follow that advice. However, as hard as the emergency services try to be all things to all people in an emergency, there are only so many assets available to deal with the event’s immediacy and the business continuity to supply response to the rest of your city. 

Emergency management will tell you to plan and be prepared for this, as it will hopefully prevent fatalities and injuries. The goal is to reduce damage to buildings or equipment, protect the environment and the community, mitigate any issues, and allow for the resumption of normal operations. 

We all know and respect the precious work that Security Specialists provide in the private and public sectors. They are a very dedicated workforce with a vital posture as the first line of defence. They protect many private citizens, small and large corporations, buildings and condo complexes, critical infrastructure components, commercial and industrial settings. 

That said, career opportunities are often part-time or temporary due to the sporadic nature of emergencies. Adding higher levels of expertise and professionalism to these members’ training adds cost to their bottom line. 

The Return on Investment (ROI) for the client is only measurable on the recovery potential to the ordinary course of business. Does the investment of additional EM training for your security specialists outweigh the benefit of bringing the emergency under control much faster, smoother, and safer? Does it prevent potential civil suits or serious visits by the Ministry of Labour or other oversight regulators that may deem poor performance by your company? Might you get your business back into full swing sooner, start the production lines even one day sooner to catch up on lost production and potential revenue? Is that the ROI you need to see, or are you going to cross your fingers and hope all ends up safely and quickly? 

No company wants to spend unnecessarily, and it can be challenging to justify before an emergency is experienced. 

The best ROI might be to enhance your security professionals’ posture with emergency management training to meet an improved bottom line’s ultimate goal. 

Increasing your security specialists’ expertise will improve the safety and security outcomes for your staff and clientele and bolster your business continuity preparedness.

The concepts and principles of the Incident Command/Management System process are not new to the emergency services sector, however, more training is required to elevate the work in all of the EM pillars. It is unfortunate that such training is often the financial trade-off as organizations push EM training to the back burner – until something goes wrong. 

When the after-action review or hot wash takes place, priority recommendations always include more EM training to mitigate the issues identified.

In terms of accountability, does the end justify the means for this additional valid, comprehensive, and ongoing training worth the security company's cost and the end-user, the client? How can the added dollars per hour, the added thousands of dollars on a security contract, be justified? To be compared against the potential ROI for involved parties to justify when the lack of prevention, mitigation, planning, and preparedness strategies never shows until a bungled response and a seriously delayed and costly response to even the smallest of events. 

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Bill Neadles, CEM, is a retired police Superintendent, emergency management and security professional with 43 years in Law Enforcement. He is the founder and partner of the GTA Emergency Management Consultants Inc. He can be reached at 
info@gta-emci.com

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