July 22, 2019 – My visit with the security team got off to an interesting start. When I entered the room I felt like I was going through a TSA checkpoint at the airport!
Security Manager Kyle McBride had me empty my pockets while 26-year veteran security officer Bob Ehrhorn used a metal-detecting wand to make sure I wasn’t carrying any weapons or contraband. It was all in good fun, and once I “passed,” Kyle presented me with two different Rady Children’s security patches. These will make a great addition to my collection of souvenirs from my travels across the Hospital and our satellite locations!
The security team currently has 17 officers who work one of three eight-hour shifts (5:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.) Usually, three to four officers cover the main campus during each shift. They handle a range of issues, from working with local law enforcement to helping employees jumpstart their cars.
As we chatted over burritos and chips, I learned one of these officers’ key duties is responding to a “code gray,” or a combative person. There are about 24 of these codes every month, and they usually involve behavioral health patients or distraught parents. This team is trained to deescalate the situation whenever possible and to be sensitive to patients with unique behavioral challenges, such as those with autism spectrum disorder.
As anybody who has tried to park on campus during a busy weekday knows, parking can be tough, and this team is doing its part to make it more efficient and less stressful. They regularly count the open spots in the parking lots and identify when lots are full. Security also maintains a parking registration database and handles parking enforcement and after-hours valet. There are enhancements on the way to improve the parking situation, including parking lot automation! You’ll be hearing more about this in the near future.
In addition to responding to codes and dealing with parking, the security team also locks and unlocks doors, provides employees and patients with safety escorts, operates the shuttle service, handles deposits, supports helicopter arrivals and departures, assists with media and special events, monitors and reviews video surveillance, oversees badge access, maintains the lost and found (about 100 items are turned in every month), participates in investigations, and much more.
It takes a special kind of person to be a security officer at a children’s hospital. This team knows how to strike the balance between being authoritative and compassionate, and how to interact with families and children in a way that is not intimidating. Leaving this visit, I was even more confident that, with this team in charge, the safety of our campus, staff and families is in great hands.