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Long Guard Shifts - Fatigue and Psychological Factors

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  • Long Guard Shifts - Fatigue and Psychological Factors

    Hi everybody,

    Folks mentioned something in the ID thread that I thought might be worth getting some input on.

    I've been a security troop my entire nineteen years in the Air Force. Fifteen of those years were spent in Europe. While stationed at RAF Lakenheath, our aircraft squadrons were temporarily relocated to RAF Honington during a flightline resurfacing project. While guarding aircraft there, I had my first experience working directly with RAF troops. They had a very interesting post rotation/shift schedule. Over 24 hours it went like this:

    2 hours - entry control point

    4 hours - patrol

    4 hours - standby

    2 hours - entry control point

    6 hours - standby

    2 hours - patrol

    The tour cycle was 1 24-hour shift on, 2 (often 3) days off. The actual duty cycle would vary depending on personnel and shift rotation, but troops never worked a gate longer than 2 hours.

    My question then is my question now: Why aren't we (private sector and military) doing this?

    The study on fatigue mentioned in the ID card thread is certainly not the only one to support an argument for a shorter guard shift. The bulk of my career I've worked twelve-hour shifts, often without meal breaks. I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted here, but maybe someone who's never heard it before will stop by and read this: long shifts breed carelessness, complacency, apathy - the common "guard asleep on duty" scenario we've all seen in the movies.

    The RAF shift rotation prevented a great many fatigue-related errors at entry points. I don't have the exact statistics anymore, but I remember their shift commander telling me that the increase in performance was significant enough to warrant the base commander taking their "experimental" new shift schedule all the way up to headquarters.

    Troop morale was high. They loved the schedule. They executed the rotation with such precision that post-associated time was practically nil, ensuring that the entire 6-hour standby shift was spent sleeping, and even the toughest shifts (2 hours on the gate followed by 4 hours patrolling after that 6 hours of sleep) were accepted without complaints by troops who had several days off following one extended day of duty.

    8 hours on a gate is punishing, particularly when factoring in weather (I'm stationed in North Dakota now). 12 hours is ridiculous. I've been doing this professionally for almost 20 years, and I cannot remain attentive on any post for 12 straight hours.

    For most of us, the answer ends in lack of money and personnel. Where I work now, we don't have the people for that kind of rotation. We won't have it. Ever. That's the reality.

    Call me idealistic, but I can't help thinking that, given the current security climate, we're looking at the wrong bottom line.

    Take care all,

    Dave

  • #2
    Long Guard Shifts

    Working 24 hours on and 24 hours off? I think in the private sector this maybe against the law. I know the security company I work for will not allow any Security Officer to work any longer than 16 hours straight.
    This isn't a job- it's an adventure.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by EMC228
      Working 24 hours on and 24 hours off? I think in the private sector this maybe against the law. I know the security company I work for will not allow any Security Officer to work any longer than 16 hours straight.
      The example he's talking about is 24 on, 48 or 72 off. Sounds like a great deal for me.

      Comment


      • #4
        I would say employee overhead costs. Its cheaper to have the same person work 16 hours than it is to have two people work 8 hours. Why? Because that's two uniforms you have to buy, two sets of equipment, etc.
        Some Kind of Commando Leader

        "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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        • #5
          I worked for the a Veterans Home where we were combination security and fire and we ran something similiar to that. 24 hour shifts broken up between security patrol, standby in the firehouse, and basically a phone watch.

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          • #6
            I don't think it would technically be considered aa 24-hour shift because of the rest cycles, which total ten hours off the clock. Still, it's a little nebulous, I suppose. I've certainly worked worse and had it justified as "mission essential." Fifteen-hour shifts in my current duty are common.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by DaveD
              For most of us, the answer ends in lack of money and personnel. Where I work now, we don't have the people for that kind of rotation. We won't have it. Ever. That's the reality.

              Call me idealistic, but I can't help thinking that, given the current security climate, we're looking at the wrong bottom line.

              Take care all,

              Dave
              If you notice how the largest security company in the world operates, they're watching the only bottom line. Profit margin.

              (Bonus points for who that is.)

              Their subdivisions have told the United States Congress that security guards are untrained observers who do not need state mandated training because they aren't there to protect anything, only observe and report situations to the client or the security company. On many posts, unless the client puts in contract that communications equipment is required, it isn't being issued - since calling the client or the police is not a mission requirement.

              For clients who require more, they offer fully sworn law enforcement officers (clients must swear them in under their authority, of course) as well as security specialists who's mission includes intervention. These, of course, are large paying contracts with the federal government.

              I looked at the GSA Schedule for Wackenhut Services Incorporated. 99% of all their personnel are observe and report only. Those that are not are "Security Specialists" who's job description allows for intervention. They are all armed, and it is suggested the client commission them with full police powers.

              In other words, they're selling cops. When they start selling cops, things like you suggested may be incorporated. Before that - it cuts into profit margins.
              Some Kind of Commando Leader

              "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by EMC228
                Working 24 hours on and 24 hours off? I think in the private sector this maybe against the law. I know the security company I work for will not allow any Security Officer to work any longer than 16 hours straight.
                Same here. Working a 24-hour shift is illegal in CT. I offered once when the company was short-handed and I was advised about the law. Actually, I prefer 16-hour shifts as opposed to 8 on, 8 off, and then 8 back on.
                Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

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                • #9
                  Interesting idea. I think you touched on it at the end of your post though when you said lack of personnel make it almost impossible.
                  Find local security jobs at www.securityemploymentservices.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mr. Security
                    Same here. Working a 24-hour shift is illegal in CT. I offered once when the company was short-handed and I was advised about the law. Actually, I prefer 16-hour shifts as opposed to 8 on, 8 off, and then 8 back on.
                    8 on, 8 off, 8 back on. One of the advantages of working in hotels! If not full we can take a free room if we have to do any of these shifts. (Just don't touch the mini bar )
                    I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
                    Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mr. Security
                      Same here. Working a 24-hour shift is illegal in CT.
                      How do Fire Departments and ambulance services get around that law? 34- and 48-hour ambulance shifts are very common in EMS. I worked a 72-hour shift once.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jackhole
                        How do Fire Departments and ambulance services get around that law? 34- and 48-hour ambulance shifts are very common in EMS. I worked a 72-hour shift once.
                        They're allowed to sleep on the job! Montreal firemen work 10 hour day shifts & 14 hour nights with one 24 Sunday per month. After a certain time the night shift guys are allowed to sleep.
                        I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
                        Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ottawa Fire seem to have that sched. as well.
                          I like the 2X12 on then 2 off and every weekend either 3 on or 3off. Taking 2 vacation days can give you 7 off in a row.
                          I also like the idea of less commuting to work (7X12's in 14, instead of 10X8's out of 14)

                          Originally posted by HotelSecurity
                          They're allowed to sleep on the job! Montreal firemen work 10 hour day shifts & 14 hour nights with one 24 Sunday per month. After a certain time the night shift guys are allowed to sleep.
                          Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.
                          Groucho Marx

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jackhole
                            How do Fire Departments and ambulance services get around that law? 34- and 48-hour ambulance shifts are very common in EMS. I worked a 72-hour shift once.
                            The other members answered your question. However, I wanted to comment on the part where you worked a 72-hour shift. There have been a couple of occasions where my relief didn't show on time after I worked a double. My policy is that if I am required by circumstances to work a triple, I will get some sleep, even if it is just an hour. Some may criticize this decision, but I am not able to respond effectively to situations or emergencies once significant fatigue has set in. Since it is illegal for an employer to require that I work a triple, I have no qualms about doing what I need to do in order to perform satisfactory, even if I must rest on duty.
                            Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by HotelSecurity
                              They're allowed to sleep on the job! Montreal firemen work 10 hour day shifts & 14 hour nights with one 24 Sunday per month. After a certain time the night shift guys are allowed to sleep.
                              In theory, we could sleep also but our company was so busy and understaffed that this was next to impossibe. On a 34-hour shift I typically got about 4 hours of sleep (15-30 minutes at a time).

                              Comment

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