February 16, 2011 | | Comments 1
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Mac’s Safety Space: Don’t let go of the coat

I was traveling recently through the middle of the country and had to witness some sort of lock down of one of the gated areas at the airport. I’m not sure what had happened (it was a very cold and blustery morning, so if they were conducting a drill, props to them for not taking the easy route). At any rate, this resulted in a considerable back-up for the security screening process, prompting the use of a gate area that was either completely decommissioned or was awaiting refurbishment.

The security screening area for this “alternative” gate was not equipped with all the latest bells and whistles, but the TSA folks were making the best use of it that they could under the circumstances, and pretty much all the travelers were being well-behaved (could have been unpleasant). After making our way through this checkpoint, we were put on a bus and driven around to the gate area that had been locked down, so my experience was one of a well-oiled machine, but the experiences of some other folks was somewhat less so.

First off, when we arrived at the “good” gates, there were security and other folks on hand to direct us back into the terminal, which was very good, but at least a couple of those folks were a little underdressed for the occasion. In chatting with one of those folks, he indicated that he had really not expected to have to be standing out in the cold for any length of time and so had only worn a suit coat and trousers.

I immediately thought of all the emergency response plans I’ve seen (particularly lockdown plans) in which various members of the extra staffing folks are pressed into service to help out with perimeter door positions, etc.

So the question I have for you good folk is this: If you have to respond during weather that might best be described as “crappy” (I suppose the technical term could be inclement, but that term just doesn’t seem to do justice to the endless possibilities of conditions that can be engendered by crappy), do you have foul weather gear for the folks who might have to lend a helping hand?

Security staff are likely to have access to some of this equipment, but if you had to pull off a sustained response, can you keep folks appropriately warm, dry, and safe? Winter is certainly upon us, and if 2010-2011 is anything like last year, pretty much everyone, north to south, is going to get a taste of the wintry mix. Brrrrrrrrr!

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Filed Under: Emergency management

Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at stevemacsafetyspace@gmail.com.

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  1. Mac- I guess I take a somewhat different approach. If you work in a climate with bad weather, would you not have this type of wear handy? Even in a locker, you could be sent to it or trade places with someone who had it with them. It is like footwear on icy pavement, lots etc. You would not believe (or maybe you would) the # of employees we see after a fall when there is snow & ice around. They are in 3-4″ stilletto heels blaming the condition of the parking lot for the fall. Our facility folks do a great job of trying to clear the lots but sometimes it is impossible given a large storm that leaves a layer of ice under it and the cars in the lot while they are trying to clear it. Nor, are we responsible for the sidewalks that the city maintains. When do we take our own responsibility for our actions? I see this is not often the case that resulted in a fall. They could wear boots and change to the shoes when safely inside. Why should we now add another layer of “protection” to our disaster planning? I am sure you see people in shorts and no coat in freezing weather going in & out of stores. If they don’t have a coat in the car and have a problem, is it their fault or the car manufacturers that they suffer? We have become so fearful of a lawsuit that we no longer advocate for personal responsiblity and now “exptect” it from someone else. With shrinking resources for healthcare, we need not add to the expense of it.

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