It’s a role with a macho stereotype, but the security guards at Western Health have skills that extend well beyond physical strength.
“Let’s face it – being a security officer in a major hospital is a tough gig and they have to deal with some very confronting situations,” says Health Support Services Divisional Director Christine Neumann.
“But we recruit for a specific type of person, with core skills of empathy, situational awareness and strong communication skills, and we build on this with further hospital specific training so they are well equipped for any situation.
“When you see the Western Health security team moving around our hospital sites they always create a sense that we are in very, very safe hands. They are the nicest, kindest, caring group of staff and when things get a bit challenging they are the people you want alongside you.”
As is the case for all Western Health staff, COVID-19 has presented new challenges for the security team, which is made up male and female officers.
The team at Sunshine Hospital says people are generally “a bit more edgy”.
“It’s very busy at the moment,” says Jun Dagmang.
“People are stressed because of COVID and we understand that. We’re here to help people and to keep everybody safe.”
Jake Jones says “physical engagement” is always the very last resort.
“Instead there’s a lot of verbal de-escalation. Being a compassionate person, and being able to communicate, is one of the most important parts of our job.”
Supervising team leader Carlo Umile said he was proud of the teamwork within the group: “In some ways we are the face of Western Health. We want to make sure that patients, visitors and staff are safe.”
Christine Neumann says an additional challenge for the security team during COVID-19 was the need to wear masks and gowns – as well as gloves, eye protections, vests, pagers, cameras and phones that are already part of the “daily outfit”.
“The spirit, professionalism and goodwill they have shown to adapting to yet another new situation continually impresses me,” Christine says. “Thank you for making us all safe!”
Pictured (left-right): Security staff Will, Pierre, Carlo, Jun and Jake.