When ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Occupies Your Street

Here are some of the lessons learned by Carolinas Medical Center when Occupy Charlotte protested at their facilities.

Thanks to such a comprehensive planning and preparation process, we suffered no disruptions whatsoever to the facility or to our ability to provide excellent patient care to the community during this event. In fact, the Occupy Charlotte spokesperson later thanked us for our treatment of their group through their Facebook page and apologized for their choice of Carolinas Medical Center as their choice of venue, admitting that due to the incredible amount of community based and indigent care services that we provide to the Charlotte region that we were a very poor choice as an example of what is wrong with the healthcare system.

Lessons Learned:

While this event was certainly a success due to the pre-planning by our security department and absence of any disruptions to patient care, there are always opportunities for improvement in any process. Some of the lessons learned from this event included:

  • Interoperability and reliability of communications is crucial during an event involving multiple agencies, such as local police and security departments. If two-way radio interoperability between your agencies does not exist, make certain that you have the appropriate plans to provide for routine information updates between members of each department (such as stationing a police officer in your command center).
  • Property lines and right of way can and do change from time to time with expansion and construction efforts (a constant in the healthcare industry). Make certain that property maps and drawings are readily available and routinely updated.
  • The same applies to your existing polices and procedures that might be called into play during such an event. Make certain that you are meeting all statutory and regulatory requirements should you have to take action against protesters on your property.
  • Internal communications with Carolinas Medical Center administration and staff well in advance of the event not only to prevented any confusion or misperceptions on their part but also served to demonstrate the value of a well designed and properly managed security program for their facility. Providing such advance notice to these key stakeholders early on was crucial in receiving their support and confidence in their security leadership.
  • The value of relationships with law enforcement cannot be overstated. Healthc
    are security leaders should make every attempt to create and maintain liaisons with their peers in local police departments and other agencies so that their input and cooperation can strengthen existing partnerships and provide an “early warning system” for community events that might potentially impact your facilities.

While the Occupy Wall Street Movement and their spin-offs are not new, their increase in scope to include healthcare facilities and institutions of higher education is a trend that will likely continue to grow as these groups become more and more disenfranchised and seek alterative methods of garnering media attention. With proper planning, maintaining current polices and procedures, and (most importantly) a solid trustworthy working relationship with your local law enforcement, such events can be mitigated with minimal disruption to your organization or facility. They may claim to represent the 99 percent, but in healthcare security we represent 100 percent of the safe and secure environment for the patients and clients that we serve.

Bryan Warren is the director of Carolina HealthCare System’s corporate security.

Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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