Anyone who has ever read a job description knows all about the task, “and other duties as assigned.”
It’s the ultimate catch-all phrase. Do whatever needs to be done, whenever.
Those five words could be boldfaced and italicized in the position description for our UF Health Shands Security department officers. They’re trusted to help calm confrontations and sometimes called to restrain aggressive patients. But the rest of us usually observe them performing “other duties as assigned.”
Our security officers are proud and excited to help us and our guests.
“I really enjoy doing this kind of work because you get to help people all day,” shared Jackie Bradley, field training officer. “It overrides the tough situations we encounter. We have to deal with aggressive patients, but we also get to do more enjoyable things to help people.”
And it’s the other tasks the rest of us most commonly observe.
“We’re the ‘wheelchair escort’ people. We’re the ‘greeting’ people. We’re the ‘talking to’ people. We’re the ‘can you help me find’ people,” shared Security Officer Walter Oliver. “And when there’s a serious situation happening in the hospital, we’re the ones who are called to a scene to de-escalate everything.”
He added, “I would guess 90-95% of our job is talking to people and being respectful and calm and nice.”
Officer Sean Wilson told a similar story about some common duties he experiences daily: “Helping someone to their car, jumping a car battery, providing directions to the correct building, whatever it is. We answer a huge variety of calls.”
There are times on patrol, however, when they are doing more typical “security-type” things, he said.
Take Officer Hernan Quintana, who was sitting in the UF Health Shands Hospital Cafeteria, seemingly taking a break. What he was really doing was surveying the scene around him. There had been a report of theft of retail food items, and Herman showed up to observe during the busy lunch hour.There was no way the cashier could keep an eye on people lifting products without paying for them while also ringing up the bill for customers.
“Maybe my presence alone could deter someone from stealing,” Quintana said.
Seeing an officer sitting in the cafeteria may give people the wrong impression without this type of context.
“I would ask those people to walk in our shoes for a day,” he continued. “See how many issues we encounter. We’re continually helping people. Everybody comes to us when they need help. After spending a day in our shoes, those individuals would know and see how hard we work to try to maintain the hospital and that it stays safe.”
Wilson shares that he wakes up with a positive attitude to start his shift.
“Who am I going to help today? Whose crisis am I going to dissolve today?” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a rapid response call, it can be something on the other end of the spectrum.”
He recalls a situation in the UF Health Shands Hospital front circle, where he noticed something curious happening.
“There was a woman getting out of her car who was panicking, yelling in a tone where I could sense she was stressed and angry. She asked ‘Where do I park?’ and waived me over. When I leaned in toward her, I talked in a very low, calm manner and told her good morning and asked what I could do for her,” he explained. “It was like it stunned her. She immediately stopped crying and panicking and told me, ‘I don’t know where to park. My daughter just had a baby.’
“I told her to listen to me. I’m security here. Here’s my name and I showed her my ID card. I asked, ‘What’s your name?’ You don’t want someone to feel overwhelmed because this place is big and they feel we might not care about them. Every single person here is important to us. When she told me her name, I asked again, ‘What can I do to make your life easier?’ Her reaction was like she just won the Powerball.”
He gave her instructions and made sure she knew where to go.
“She told me she appreciated that I was being so nice,” Wilson said.
She walked away telling Wilson “Thank you, I needed that right now.”
Wilson explained, “So we went from her yelling hysterically and being in a pure panic to where I implemented just a few de-escalation techniques and she calmed down. She came right over to me, gave me a hug and squeezed me so hard I thought she was going to break my ribs. Stuff like that, that’s what really, really does it for me.”
Our security team represents the ultimate in customer service.They patrol our hospital properties ready to help — whether it’s racing to a rapid response alert on a nursing unit about a combative patient or helping someone find their car in the parking garage.
So, if you happen to need assistance — of any kind — remember our men and women in black.