Safety Tips

Let's Be Safe Out There

When I was a bouncer at the bar right at the start of my career, minor fights were a weekly occurrence. Since I "turned pro" and put on an easily recognized security guard uniform, physical altercation is perhaps a once a year occurrence, and then it is usually someone being overly heated and not really looking for a fight. Whatever the problem is, someone is getting a bit shove-y and just needs to be talked back to rationality.

I've trained and mentored a lot of people over the years on my security teams. The one rookie question I invariably hear is "What piece of equipment will keep me safe?" Without question the rookie is thinking of his pepper spray, sidearm if he is on armed patrol, night stick or Taser.


You're focusing on the wrong thing.

There is no one piece of equipment that will keep you safe, except maybe your brain.

So if it isn't equipment that keeps you safe, what about skills? Martial arts, right? Krav Maga, Kung Fu, Karate.



The moment you punch someone a couple of scenarios begin to play out.

First, whatever the outcome, and hopefully you survive, you're legally liable. Punched someone? Went all Bruce Lee on them? Was it in self-defense? Yep, see you in court. And it isn't fun, trust me. Been there, didn't do it, still wound up in court.

Second, you are not Chuck Norris and anybody who tries to sell you a self-defense course as a mall security guard is trying to get you to buy something you don't need. Maybe if you are working close protection for a celebrity, but again, your best bet is a firm hand, strong stance and polite "Back off."

Third, if you are thinking of fighting someone you better be damn sure you know what you are doing. Once you throw your first punch, even if you didn't throw the first punch of the fight, you're in it until one of you is in severe pain, and if you're the one in pain, it's probably not going to end there because if the other guy is crazy enough, he or she will keep kicking and punching until they get bored. I've seen people on my team get punched once, just once, go down hard on a tile floor in the lobby of an office building and wind up on disability with constant back spasms for years afterwards.

Being safe on the job has so little to do with your day-to-day equipment. Being safe isn't about knowing how to handle yourself in a fight. Being safe is not putting yourself in dangerous situations. Being safe is defusing situations that are beginning to escalate. And at the end of the day, being safe is knowing when to walk away. Yep. You read me right. Even as a security guard, some days you just walk away. Get on your radio, call the cops. Those cops are licensed to use deadly force if the situation warrants it.

The advice Guy and Dan (that's me) give in this section is about being safe in every aspect of the job. You won't find advice on which martial art to learn, or which pepper spray is more effective. What you will find is practical advice on not letting a situation escalate to the point where you, and everyone around you, becomes unsafe. Your job is to keep people safe and remove problems, not become a problem.

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