How security personnel respond to panics matters

One of the important roles security personnel can play is responding when events occur which could impact the safety of people in the area they are working security in. One example of such an event is a crowd panicking. In such a panic, security workers may be able to help calm things down and keep people safe.

Unfortunately though, if security workers respond in an improper manner to the panic, they could end up making the situation worse, rather than better. A recent report suggests that the actions of security personnel in a panic that happened in an airport here in New York earlier this year actually furthered the panic.

The airport in question is JFK. In mid-August, a panic arose at the airport in connection to rumors (later determined to be unfounded) of a gunman being present. In this panic, large streams of people fled from the airport's terminals. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt in the incident.

Investigators looked into various aspects of the panic, including how security personnel with the Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Patrol reacted to it. The investigators' report was released this week. According to the report, some of these security workers engaged in conduct that was likely to increase fear among the crowds, such as pulling out their weapons or joining the crowds in fleeing.

The investigators recommended that workers at the airport receive training on emergency response. State and federal officials have said that these suggestions will be followed.

As this underscores, how security personnel act when potential emergency events, like panics, arise can have major safety impacts. This is not just the case in airports, but in any place that can have security workers at, including offices, stores and apartment buildings. When a person has been hurt in an emergency event at such a location, how security personnel acted during the event and whether such actions contributed to the harm the person suffered are among the things that can have implications regarding the victim's legal options.

Source: Reuters, "Security agents fueled panic at New York airport in August: authorities," David Ingram, Nov. 21, 2016

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