Why Proactive?

As we move on from our series on beside violence risk assessments, I want to spend a few weeks sharing my personal philosophies about healthcare security. This also includes interrelating those philosophies with actual security practice. I look forward to your feedback.

The first personal philosophy that I want to address is my deep belief in proactive versus reactive security practice. There is a fundamental flaw in a reactive mindset when working within security. Being reactive (while necessary sometimes) means something bad has already happened. Being able to transition your mindset from a reactive response to proactive prevention is a fundamental shift in how we view security incidents. This idea is extremely important in healthcare security which is fundamentally different from all other forms of security.

Let’s start with some simple definitions, according to Google:

Reactive: acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it.

Proactive: creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened.

The primary responsibility of security professionals is to ensure that the lives we protect are uninterrupted by criminal activity. We build physical security plans to prevent theft and unauthorized entry; we patrol to suppress and deter criminal activity; and we assess the risk of violence in order to mitigate it before the assault occurs. In all these areas we are being proactive instead of reactive.

The problems tend to come up when we focus on proactivity in only one area of security practice. For example, the proactive mindset is often left out of training. Security training tends to focus on how best to react or respond to a particular scenario. This is not a bad thing, in fact it is a necessity. However, we should always connect response to proactive prevention in training. Training is the foundation for an officer to be able to be proactive and effective. The more you invest in this kind of training the more enabled and empowered your officers will become at being proactive.  Proactivity is a mindset that must permeate all areas of security: how we train, how we patrol, how we assess risk, how we plan security measures, and even in how we react.  

Even when we react to something like a theft or an act of violence, we must be able to carry our response forward into new measures of prevention to ensure the event is not repeated. This is especially true when dealing with violent or potentially violent patients. For example, if security is called to respond to an aggressive patient, we can and do make the scene safe. But what elements of our response are designed to ensure a second encounter with this patient is not necessary? Are we taking proactive action to ensure the displayed aggression doesn’t then become an assault after we leave? Every reactive response must then feed into proactive prevention.

What does a proactive mindset look like to you? How would you train your staff to be proactive? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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