In December 2016, Officer Patrick Spencer, a hospital Security Guard at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center in Ohio, received recognition for his fast work and quick thinking in helping evacuate patients and staff members after detecting a gas leak. The gas leak actually occurred at a shopping center across the street from the hospital, where construction was taking place. Spencer helped evacuate 30 people from the hospital before the shopping center experienced a massive explosion as a result of the leak.
Officer Spencer related that he was at his desk in the Columbus, Ohio health facility when he first detected the strong scent of gas. As a Security Guard, it was – of course – his job to investigate and he did just that. He stated that the smell became stronger and stronger as he walked towards the front doors of the health center. Officer Spencer further stated that he looked across the street and saw construction workers running away from the shopping center construction site and the manager of a pizza restaurant next door rushing customers and employees out of the restaurant. He understood immediately that there was a serious crisis and that he needed to respond quickly.
He sprang into action and informed hospital personnel of the gas leak, who in turn began to help patients evacuate the building. They were barely out of the building before they heard a deafening explosion and felt the heat and concussion from a massive blast. As a result of this incident, people are praising Spencer and calling him a hero, but just imagine how differently this incident could have gone.
One of the things that Spencer mentioned in interviews after the event was that he had worked at the hospital for four years and said the training he had received had been “incredible.” Spencer was able to react and respond quickly in this situation – and save lives in the process – because he was alert and was paying attention to what was happening around him, as well as being well-trained.
We are all familiar with the phenomena of turning down the car radio when we are looking for an address. This is because our senses all feed information to our brain for processing. By eliminating one source of information, we free up additional resources for our brain to process additional data being fed through a different sense. Wearing a blindfold or closing your eyes can help you temporarily increase your sense of taste or smell and closing your eyes and putting your hands over your ears can help you think more clearly.
This is an important concept for a security company in the industry because the more your senses are diverted toward one activity, the less they are available to detect what is going on around you. If Spencer had been reading a magazine, playing a game on a computer or talking on a cell phone, his attention may have been diverted to something else and caused him to miss the crucial warning signals his nose was sending up.
Staying alert and attentive over long periods of time, however, is actually a crucial and vital discipline that must be both taught and practiced. For this reason, ongoing training is a vitally important part of a Security Guard’s regimen. Not only that, but practicing crisis situations also helps security personnel to stay calm and focused in a crisis.