Security System Monitoring in Health Care Facilities

This review will define a security command center, discuss officer selection and training criteria, discuss physical and psychological limitations and the impact of ergonomics when designing or upgrading the command center.

Security Command Centers

Command centers have been around for a very long time; large organizations and governments have used them since the beginning of civilization. From the castle’s keep to the pentagon, they all share common fundamental attributes and missions that do not materially change: to achieve situational awareness, manage threats, and secure the organization (RGA).

Today’s command centers are mostly computerized; officers must be able to proficiently operate many computer-based systems. Training of these officers is critical in order to have an efficient and highly functional command center. The quantity of information available is multiplying with the introduction of new technologies and the required decision making processes that are introduced with the technology. Command center operators are being asked to undertake a mix of tasks, some electronic, some manual and others that are still paper based;, all of these responsibilities are sometimes conducted under great pressures (ASRA).The operator’s responsibilities need to be reconciled with an efficient and comfortable working environment (ASRA). There are different types of monitoring that can be achieved in a command center. Cameras that are monitored in real time are referred to as active monitoring whereas cameras monitored retrospectively are referred to as passive monitoring (La Vigne et al. 37).

Security Officer Selection and Training

More hospitals are increasing their use of CCTV as part of their overall security plans, using an integrated system, security staff at a central monitoring station can view live images from surveillance cameras, control pan-tilt-zoom cameras, or search for video clips stored on digital video recorders. (TAC). The selection and training of officers to staff the command centers is crucial.  The average person cannot distinguish between normal or suspicious activities, but trained security monitoring officers are taught to do just that (Bureau of Labor). Most employers teach their new officers to become proficient in the process of analyzing people through the cameras screens or in person when they are stationed away from the monitoring station. Officers are put through extensive testing so they can distinguish what normal behavior is versus a visitor or patient that may be acting suspicious. Other important qualities that employers look for in potential officers are decision making skills, patience, and observation skills. These are beneficial to the job because officers need to determine the best courses of action in an emergency while still  being aware of their surroundings (Bureau of Labor). A case can be made that less sophisticated operators require more carefully designed command centers to function more efficiently, especially when the security function must compete with the telephone, radio and visitor log for their attention (RGA).

“Training for monitors should entail both guidance on how to use cameras and interact with dispatch and patrol as well as cover the policies and procedures in place to safeguard privacy. Most agencies employ on-the-job learning to train monitors on actual camera use, with current monitors overseeing the training of new monitors,” (La Vigne et al 39). However, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) is an organization that provides training and education for private and public safety professionals to enhance their skills in operating within a security command center. Monitors are often trained on things they are intended to monitor and things they aren’t intended to or cannot monitor. As such, often the monitor must sign a pledge that acknowledges the disciplinary sanctions that can occur if they violate protected rights when monitoring (La Vigne et al 40).

There are several different training programs that are available to ensuring that a central station is operating at the highest level. The Security Industry Association (SIA) offers a training program that will create a more effective operator. SIA claims that their program will boost the productivity of all operators, reduce mistakes, increase satisfaction and retention of experienced operators, and will fit best into your budget.

The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) has created eight online modules for training operators. Their modules cover topics like operational overview, the role as the cental operator, alarm verification, communication equipment, and emergency procedures. The Central Station Operators course will enable employees to gain skills and an understanding that are critical for taking calls as the operator.

Employing these programs and modules when hiring operators is essential. “When training, emphasis is placed on operator and customer relations, application of systems and software, and peer relations, (Security Sales and Integration 1997).” The SIA/CPO has a program that in general covers central station terminology, interpersonal communications, telephone and radio communication, how to handle stressful situations, and alarm signal processing (Security Sales and Integration 1997). All of these programs by the various organizations set out to be consistent in their training mechanisms.