By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 634
The U.S. Government classifies security professionals as essential during the Coronavirus crisis. Not only are security guard firms exempt from state lockdowns but we have a special responsibility to maintain our normal work schedule during this national emergency. In fact, security guard companies like Echelon must play a dual role because we are tasked with continuing to provide security services to our clients while assisting law enforcement in their regional efforts to keep order and flatten the curve of the coronavirus. As the crisis progresses, it’s likely the National Guard will also be deployed to help at hospital sites to prevent panic related unwanted and illegal activity. However, the public and private sector will continue to rely upon security officer firms for guard posts and patrols of essential businesses – as well as those unnecessary businesses, facilities and institutions that must close their doors, leave their jobsite, board-up their building, close their lot or secure their campus.
One of the best ways security companies and their staff can assist during this unprecedented international health crisis is to understand how to identify, protect ourselves and act in response to the virus if we’re exposed. Below are helpful recommendations from the Center for Disease Control for security protocols regarding security guard officers, supervisors and office staff as well as the general public.
- Know the warning signs and symptoms of the coronavirus. Stay observant in the office, on post and while patrol. Be aware of who you are coming in contact with and watch for signs of exposure. The symptoms of COVID-19 may include a tickle in the throat, a high temperature, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms after exposure can may emerge in 2 -14 days.
- Protect yourself and colleagues from contact with the coronavirus. Guards should practice social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet away from co-workers and the public – especially those showing virus symptoms. Wash your hands several times per day and try NOT to touch your face. If you have trained EMS or EMT personnel on staff, use them to assess anyone suspected of having the COVID-19 virus. If trained healthcare professionals are not available, security guards should instruct anyone with symptoms to self-isolate and call their physician immediately.
- Development of a corporate coronavirus plan of action. A companywide plan should include how to limit employee office and jobsite exposure, work space and common area cleaning and fraternization protocols, information sharing regarding best practices, the latest expert health information, projected employee government relief options, as well as who is able to work from home and who is needed in the office for everyday operations.
- Purchase and use professional protection equipment (PPE) to mitigate exposure: If available, purchase and distribute face masks, disposable gloves, single use coveralls, protective eyewear, hand sanitizers and alcohol wipes for surfaces. Take off security uniform and office clothes and wash them as soon as you enter your home each day to protect your loved ones.
- If you’re exposed to any individual with COVID-19: Watch yourself for symptoms, clean and disinfect your clothing and gear before you reuse it. Make sure that you document any possible exposure. Self-isolate, consult a doctor, or get tested if you think you may have contracted the virus.
Remember, security professionals are a key component in public safety, helping to combat the coronavirus and keeping your region, community, co-workers and family safe. Eat well, stay hydrated, open windows for fresh air, exercise, get plenty of sleep and shelter in place as much as possible. Although there are still many unknowns, we learn more each day and it is certain that current unprecedented public health measures like social distancing, sheltering in place, and self-quarantine are impermanent.
Let us not forget – we are truly all in this together!