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Court rules in case of woman's duct death at Hawaii mall

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  • Court rules in case of woman's duct death at Hawaii mall

    Source: Associated Press
    Created: July 22, 2013 State's supreme court rules Honolulu mall had an obligation to care for pregnant woman.

    HONOLULU (AP) — A Honolulu mall had an obligation to care for a pregnant woman after she got stuck in an exhaust duct at the shopping center in 2005 and later died, even if she was trespassing on its roof, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled.

    The opinion issued Thursday also upheld parts of a lower court's ruling in favor of the mall, finding Ala Moana Center couldn't be held liable for failing to anticipate that the woman would sneak onto the roof and end up in the vent. The case now goes back to Circuit Court.

    Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
    Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

    Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

  • #2
    It's always risky reading too much into news accounts of court rulings where you only get glimpses of the ruling and lots of details about the incident itself are missing, but it seems to me that the two issues here (with regard to the "duty to provide care") may have been:

    1. A person is found in an unusual part of the property, barefoot, wearing tank top and shorts, behaving erratically, jumping up and down on the roof, talking about babies inside the duct, and offering a highly unlikely explanation of her presence - especially for the way she was dressed. We don't know how long it took the maintenance worker to call security, but it doesn't seem that he did so immediately, and if not, he certainly should have done so - or at least his supervisor or someone who could have confirmed or denied her right to be there.

    2. Security's slow reaction: Doesn't sound like the stoves served by the duct were turned off immediately, and fire/EMS definitely were not called immediately by the story's account.

    Two thoughts (NOTE: I apologize for the caps below, but all other more civilized means of emphasizing text like bolding REMAIN INACTIVATED SINCE THIS SOFTWARE WAS UPDATED, despite my repeated efforts to have them TURNED ON - a simple thing to do with this forum software<end_of_rant>):

    First, EVERY employee working in any facility, in any capacity, should be trained to raise an alarm when people are discovered in areas of the facility where they ought not to be, or even if you suspect they should not be there. AND...there should never be any repercussions or recriminations if an employee is wrong about their suspicions. Instead, they should be praised for their alertness and for doing the right thing, regardless.

    Second, security personnel should receive scenario training. It's not necessary that such training would have anticipated this specific incident, but through a series of scenarios what people do learn is HOW TO THINK ABOUT UNUSUAL EVENTS, and how to handle them rationally even when you don't have a specific post order that lays out detailed step-by-step procedures for each and every possible incident that could ever possibly be imagined.

    Stuff happens. Odd, weird, bizarre, unimaginable stuff. And when that happens, post orders don't cut it. What we need in these circumstances are people who are trained to THINK. We train them to think by putting them through scenarios and having them learn how to analyze the problem, starting with what immediate steps are needed to mitigate threats to life first, etc. That question alone, answered properly, would have gotten those stoves turned off immediately. The word "hyperthermia" in the story is another way of saying that she was slowly being cooked alive inside that duct, and anyone with half a brain would have realized that they had to stop pouring heat into the duct. If the situation were slightly reversed and she was down in a drain pipe, would they keep pouring water into it? Of course not. That's the first thing you would do. This is exactly the same thing, but you have to be able to think about similarities from scenarios, draw analogies in your mind and take rational action.

    Incidentally, scenario training is something the fire service does very well and one way they do it is continually putting out a series of desktop "coffee-break" scenario exercises as part of the ongoing inservice training. You set up a scenario on paper, which can be read in 10 or 15 minutes - or less. Maybe you throw in a "kink" or two to make it more challenging. Then, you ask a few relevant questions: How would you deal with this? What about that? Etc.

    People are required to submit their answers, perhaps online, and they get service points for doing so. Service points are considered as part of promotional selections, or perhaps for bonuses, "spiffs", etc. After they submit their answers, they're given the solution (or perhaps alternative solutions) to the scenario. Nothing high-tech. Nothing that pulls people away from their duties.

    There is a specific rational method that can be applied to unanticipated situations. Whether any of the situations you've seen in scenario training mirror the situation you're dealing with today or not, it doesn't matter, because over time you have been taught how to think rationally about ANY problem you might find yourself dealing with, and how to come up with realistic solutions.
    Last edited by SecTrainer; 07-30-2013, 06:25 AM.
    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

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    • #3
      I have tried over and over to get SIW to fix the site ever since it changed. My requests have fallen on deaf ears. About 6 months ago I gave up.
      Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
      Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

      Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference