Employers have a duty of care towards all employees,includingthose who are sent to dangerous parts of the world.
Training departments need to ensure those members of staff are equipped with all the skills and support they need to do their job effectively and safely.
The extra skills required often vary according to the location and the work being carried out, and training departments need to know what the security issues are in the areas or countries concerned .
There are various organisations, often staffed by current and ex-SAS or special forces personnel, that offer intelligence and training services. One such is security training organisation Pilgrims Group.
“We meet up with clients, find out what countries they are visiting, how they will be travelling around, the kind of locations they are staying in, how they work and what their budget is,” says Karen McMenamin, training manager at Pilgrims Group. “Then our intelligence department can give us current information on the area they are travelling to.”
What is required is a training needs analysis, carried out internally or externally. This should assess what skills the staff have, what will be needed when they are on location, how those needs might change and what support will be provided.
The right kind of advice
Organisations such as Pilgrims Group can offer general security advice or organisational or location-specific advice.
“We can advise on relevant issues,” says McMenamin. “These includethe kind of research, equipment and documents to travel with, how to deal with potentially difficult situations, how to assess hotels from a security point of view and how to deal with aggressive people. Alsohow to lower your profile in certain situations, how to approach checkpoints, what is suitable cover if a person comes under fire and much more.”
Personal safety awareness training is very popular, plus specific training on how to drive safely and first aid.
The political and security situation in dangerous countries is often volatile, which means security needs and demands can change very quickly. Employees need to be able to adapt quickly to any changes and have the resources, support and information to operate safely.
Some organisations and training suppliers offer additional training and support on the ground and will help assess changing situations.
While McMenamin’s organisation, likemany others,offers off-the-shelf courses, most organisations say they really need bespoke training, she says.
And according to Dave Heed, senior adviser at safety experts Safer Access, training departments should use suppliers who are specialists in their area.
“It is very easy to find traditional security managers, but you really need people with experience in your particular field,” says Heed. “They need to understand how your sector works and understand the context.”
Reputable suppliers will have a demonstrable track record, but one of the best ways to ensure you are using a good supplier is to go by word of mouth. Security training is a small field and specialised areas such as training for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or media training even smaller, so reputation tends to precede most organisations.
Specialised, bespoke training obviously costs more than readymade courses. The costs vary according to what level of input is required from the supplier in terms of intelligence gathering, length of courses, number of instructors and delegates, level of training, whether the training is done on-site, follow-up etc. Doing risk assessments in the field bumps up costs considerably.
Some organisations offer subsidised, open access training. RedR, for example, a supplier operating in the NGO sector, has donor funding for open access courses that anyone in the aid sector can attend.
Emergency support training
Richard Corbett, co-ordinator of humanitarian support personnel, Oxfam, says: “I co-ordinate most of the training for the emergency support group – a team of about 80. When these people join us we assess their training needs as part of the induction process. Everyone does a module on security so that they understand our policies. We use internal and external resources to provide training. There is a security person within Oxfam who ensures everyone going to a dangerous location has a minimum level of security. Our security person assesses field locations as well. We can provide training on the ground and if there are extra issues in a particular location, we give specialised support and mentoring.
“Modules on first aid and managing security incidents tend to be delivered externally, using a couple of specialist providers to NGOs who have real knowledge of our business, policies and empathy with those on the courses.”