Canadian Security Magazine

Standardization that makes sense

Jennifer Brown   

Features Opinion

There’s been a lot of talk about how the security industry fails to take advantage of opportunities to share information and improve skills. Many see their peers in the industry as competitors. If you want to see a good example of cooperation within a particular sector of the industry, consider what some of the Toronto hospital security managers are doing to standardize training with their security guards.

 Last year University Health Network (UHN takes in Princess Margaret,
Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals), Rouge Valley Health,
St. Michael’s Hospital, Women’s College and St. Joseph’s Health Centre
got together and decided to have one vendor provide training to all of
their security guards. It makes sense for so many reasons.

They recently met to review the program and the feedback from the
guards was that they like it because there are more opportunities for
them to attend training sessions. The managers like it because the
guards are being trained on the same material, in the same way.

What happened before was that UHN would train a security guard with
their use of force trainer, and Women’s College would train the same
security guard with their own vendor. They were doubling up on the
expense and it wasn’t efficient. And while they were getting basically
the same information, it wasn’t exactly the same. So the security
managers of these hospitals — some of the largest in the country —
brought all training under the one provider — Strategic Risk
Protection, an Kingston, Ont.-based company. Now, when a guard receives
certification at any single hospital in this group, that training is
recognized by all of them. A guard’s “home” hospital pays for their
training. So, if a guard is full-time at UHN but has casual hours at
Women’s College, senior security manager Todd Milne pays for the
training out of his budget — about $150 a guard.

UHN’s Milne says the collaborative approach was taken in part because
of the recently created Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN),
established by the Ministry of Health in the province of Ontario in
April 2007. Milne also looked at it this way: Once the vendor becomes a
recognized trainer by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional
Services they can also administer the Ministry-approved tests for their
guards. It will become one-stop shopping for the five hospitals.

When it came to consolidating with one trainer, Milne says they found
few were able to provide it for such a large group of guards.

“A lot of the vendors we spoke to weren’t able to handle it,” he says.
“We needed someone who really catered to the vision and could work on
our clock and not theirs.”

Oh, and remember all those concerns about portable licensing when the
province decided guards would now have ownership over their licence?
What the five hospitals have done serves to address that on some
levels. It means that if a guard at any one of these hospitals decides
to pick up hours at another one of these facilities, their skills are
completely transferable.

“We do know the security guard licence belongs to the individual and we
have no control over that whatsoever, but we want to make sure that
what we’re getting is a trained officer and we know they are coming
with a program we’ve established. Does it support portability? Sure,”
says Milne. He thinks other hospitals will jump on board to the shared
training model. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in
Toronto is considering joining the other five hospitals.

Sure, other security managers in other sectors share best practices,
but when a group gets together to standardize frontline training for
guards who face the public in serious situations on a daily basis ­—
and save costs at the same time — it deserves to be recognized.

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