Critical Incident Response for Security Officers

Security officers should be trained and prepared to respond to a critical incident quickly and effectively.

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Note: Critical incidents are situations that are out of the ordinary and are typically some type of emergency. This section covers the basics of critical incident response.

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A few examples of a critical incident include:

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  • natural disasters,
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  • acts of terrorism,
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  • robberies,
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  • assaults,
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  • sabotages
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  • severe accidents.
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Identifying, accessing, evaluating, reporting, documenting, and responding appropriately to critical incidents are all important duties and responsibilities of security officers.

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Basic Response Concepts

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The incident response procedure depends on the organization, size, and type of incident. However, the basic concept for the critical incident response can be used in each situation. No situation is exactly the same; there is no way to plan everything.

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A security officer has certain procedural items that they should follow at any emergency. These include:

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  • assessing risks to health and safety of everyone involved
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  • reducing the risk of further damage to the:
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  • physical, both people and property
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  • psychology of those involved
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  • reputation of the organization
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  • isolating the threats or hazards
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Security officers should prepare for their role in a potential incident by formulating a plan before an incident occurs. This is called crisis rehearsal. By visualizing the incident and evaluating possible risks and opportunities, the officer can be better prepared to achieve a positive outcome.

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Mental preparation enables officers to become familiar with the look and feel of a critical incident and be better prepared to defuse the stress and shock. This mental rehearsal creates a learned response in the mind so that under pressure, the subconscious will guide the physical actions.

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Operational decisions are based on training and experience, so training that is realistic and appropriate is important to minimize the response time needed to successfully manage critical incidents.

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It is imperative to have a good, solid working relationship with your local law enforcement agencies, first responders, and health care workers. We are all in this together.

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Standard Operating Procedures

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Security officers should have a formalized plan of action in the event of an emergency. A common practice would be for the company to have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) established for officers to follow. The following are some examples of what can be included in a SOP for critical incident responses:

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  • Actions to take in the event of an incident that has been planned for. Not all situations can be planned for, but you should attempt to create plans for as many as possible.
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  • Identifying personnel that are responsible for each action. This can be by job title or by named individual.
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  • Establishing clear communication and reporting lines. Outlining triggers for escalating the control of incident sites to external agencies.
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  • Listing procedures for returning to normal operations after an incident has concluded. This may also include post-incident management steps as well as requirements for after action reports.
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Your first concern is the safety of the public. You must be calm, give clear directives, and communicate with the proper authorities.

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A licensed security officer has the same capabilities as a private citizen. During an emergency, your role is still the protection of the clientu2019s or employeru2019s assets. You do not have the same job duties, training, or capabilities under the law as a licensed peace officer. You may not interfere with peace officers who respond to an incident, even if it is at your assigned post, property, or premises.

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As a citizen you must comply with law enforcement orders, even if ordered to leave your post. If you are instructed by a peace officer to leave your post, you need to notify your company representative, designated officer, or immediate supervisor immediately and advise them of the situation and what you were instructed to do.