Department Spotlight: Security

By: Alana Ridge

October 03, 2022

A team of Security Officers posing for a group photo

“Safety is Number One,” isn’t just a saying – it's a fact of life, especially at Renown Health. The safety of all patients, visitors, staff and volunteers is always the top priority, and our Security Department takes that commitment seriously. This team is devoted in their efforts to provide a safe environment for all, building cooperative and proactive security processes leveraging crime prevention techniques and state-of-the-art technology. Renown Security sets the safety and well-being bar high, and they continually exceed that standard day in, day out at all of our hospitals and urgent care, primary care and lab locations. 

Specially Trained, Continually Present 

Our Security Department isn’t staffed with your run-of-the-mill Security Officers; these team members surpass security and safety expectations. Think city and state police-level standards. You read that right – many of Renown’s Security Officers come from Nevada Highway Patrol, the Washoe County and Carson City Sheriff’s Offices, the state probation and parole board and more.  

This team fosters specialized training in a collaborative environment. Every member of the security team has extensive training in compassion, empathy and de-escalation techniques to provide the highest levels of safety and security. They implement this training in all their daily duties, whether they are saying a simple ‘hello’ to a patient passing by or preventing harm to a staff member. 

Before their shift begins, the team meets to debrief meeting to discuss major incidents that occurred on the previous shift. These meetings ensure the next shift is aware of situations to be on special alert for and individuals to look out for. After, the team members head off to their assignments. 

“The day could be as mellow as greeting someone at the welcome table, or it could be as chaotic as de-escalating someone in distress,” said Emmanuel Fernandez-Orozco, Supervisor of Security at Renown Regional. “Regardless of the day, every experience is rewarding in its own way. The only thing that is promised is that every day will be different.” 

While every Security Officer has varying experiences, one aspect of their job always stays the same: they are always on alert for any potential safety issue. Even on the “slowest” days, it is important for this team to stay vigilant in order to mitigate any potential risks. There are several security programs that the team uses to keep everyone at Renown safe and secure:

  • Renown's security operations center team (also known as dispatch) monitors all cameras in real time, with security officers patrolling parking areas 24/7.  
  • Security escorts are always available for any employee, patient or guest at every Renown location. Security Officers can escort anyone to their designated site, check surroundings for danger and monitor the person until they safely leave for their next destination.    
  • Rescue officers are available for any Renown location where an employee feels unsafe. 
  • Security maintains a strong relationship with the Reno Police Department (RPD) and assists with reporting and providing information that aids RPD in pursuing and deterring criminal activity. 

“In security, we are a counselor, teacher and rule enforcement officer, all rolled into one,” said Bob Stone, Supervisor of Security for Renown Health. Talk about master multitaskers! 

Protection is only one part of the job. Through positive and meaningful interactions with guests, patients, community and staff, regardless of where they are posted, the Security Department continually helps Renown achieve its mission of making a difference for the people they serve. 

Devoted Dispatch

Speaking of multitasking, no one does this better than the Security Dispatch Center. Security Dispatchers are the “eagle eyes in the sky” at Renown, keeping a close watch on everything that happens within every Renown location, as well as REMSA (including Care Flight). From overlooking the many cameras around campus and administering codes over the PA system to manning the radio and phones to ensure Security Officers are dispatched quickly, our dispatch team helps ensure every safety or security issue at Renown is immediately addressed. 

When a call comes in, dispatchers like Jessica Fernandez, Security Dispatcher for Renown Health, go through a quick discovery process (sometimes in seconds) to figure out the details of the situation or code and what level of security is needed to assess and de-escalate.  

According to Jessica, the ability to prioritize is something she values in her work. “80 percent of our duties are on the phone and the radios, and we are skilled in prioritizing concerns based on the sheer volume of calls we get,” she said. 

Jessica and her teammates are proud of the outcomes from their calls. Their attentiveness to every nook and cranny at Renown and their quick response times to make them not only a valued partner to the Security Department but also a necessity to our health system. 

Your In-House De-Escalation Experts 

Being in a hospital environment is undoubtedly stressful for any patient, and many factors can increase these emotions. The Security Department takes these feelings seriously and never hesitates to take appropriate action to ensure the safety of everyone at Renown. With the unfortunate rise of violence against healthcare workers, especially amid the pandemic, our first-rate security team has been crucial in countering violence with specialized de-escalation techniques. 

The key to de-escalating, according to the Security Department, is to put yourself in the shoes of whoever you are working with. As stated by Bob Stone, the team approaches each situation by asking themselves: How would I want to be treated if I was in the same circumstance? 

“Being empathetic to their situation and listening to what is going on in their lives is key to re-directing them accordingly,” said Bob. “Applying real-life experience to similar circumstances can make them feel like they are not alone. Educating people on hospital policies can also help them reduce their anxieties and solve the problems.”  

Jhorddy Lopez, Security Officer at Renown Regional, approaches each situation with the mindset of knowing that each person’s reactions are different. “Different techniques need to be implemented every time,” said Jhorddy. “You have to use your best judgment call.” 

Quick and effective judgment calls are a task that the Security Department has conquered. Rosie Garcia, Security Officer at Renown Regional, knows that using your best judgment means getting both sides of the story. “Whenever I need to step in and de-escalate a situation, I first speak with whoever is attending to the patient and gather information,” said Rosie. “Then, I always get the patient’s side as well. I want to understand how they’re feeling, so both the staff member and the patient can meet in the middle and come up with a collaborative solution.” 

An example of the heroism and advanced de-escalation displayed by our Security Officers takes us back to last spring. In the middle of the night, a Care Flight helicopter transporting a patient and their family was about to touch down on the landing pad outside of Renown Regional. Right as the helicopter was about to land, an individual jumped over the safety barricade and onto the landing pad. Alexander Pico, a former Security Officer Lead at Renown Regional (who recently joined the Carson City Sheriff’s Department) immediately communicated with the individual to leave the area. The individual then went under the rear blade, which is the most dangerous part of the helicopter. Knowing that he had to risk his own life at this point to save another, Alexander ran around the back of the helicopter and tackled the individual, preventing catastrophic injury or even death. Steve Perkins now uses this example of a swift judgment call, which was captured on dispatch cameras, as training material for new staff. 

Exceptional character, compassion and emotional intelligence are the attributes that every member of the Security Department holds. As noted by Steve Perkins, these attributes “allow for a quick assessment of each situation in order to de-escalate and move towards the best possible solution." 

Securing the Job 

The Security Department at Renown is actively hiring caring, dedicated team members who are ready to jump in and perform exceptional high-risk healthcare security services for our health system. 

“We seek people with the right combination of ability and demeanor,” said Steve Perkins. "The training and skills development we provide result in a high caliber of success.” 

Every team member in the Security Department is passionate about the same thing: helping others. And in a healthcare environment, this is important. 

“Working a healthcare security job is far different than working any other security job,” said Jhorddy Lopez. “At a hospital, you get the chance to interact with people one-on-one. I get to experience the feeling of, ‘I can make a difference in this person’s life.’” 

Any interaction can change the course of a person’s day, and the Security Department embraces this fact. “I really do love helping people so much, whether it be an elderly patient who needs help with their wheelchair or a situation where I need to step in and de-escalate,” said Rosie Garcia.  

In order to succeed in this fast-paced department, being a collaborative team member is crucial. “A good coworker is a team player – someone that loves to work in a team atmosphere,” said Emmanuel Fernandez-Orozco. 

Jhorddy Lopez reiterates this, adding that “communication and trust are also extremely important. Everyone has to have great communication skills and have each other’s backs.”

For people like Bob Stone, having a special connection to Renown inspires him to serve. As someone who experienced two life-saving hospital stays here, he is proud to give back to the organization that gave so much to him. “It was only natural to return to a facility I was familiar with my entire life,” said Bob. “After serving as a paramedic and transporting patients into Renown from Plumas County, I knew I was not done giving back to the community. Renown was the place to do exactly that.” 

All Genders Welcome 

A common misconception about the security field is that it is strictly a “man’s job.” In Renown’s Security Department, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  

As a female Security Officer, Rosie Garcia is a prime example of proving that idea wrong. As a master patroller and de-escalation expert, she ensures everything is running smoothly and that everyone feels safe at all times. 

“When I first started here, I knew right away that nobody that works here is biased,” said Rosie. “Everyone is equal, and I am treated as an equal in this department. I know I can do the job as well as any man." 

Both Rosie and her counterparts in the Security Department firmly believe that this line of work is for everyone, and they continually lift each other up and support one another. 

“No matter your gender, as long as you have confidence and integrity, you will do well,” adds Rosie. 

The Bottom Line

If you are passionate about creating a secure environment to ensure patients get the care they deserve and employees receive the safety they merit, the Security Department is your team to join. 

“I come into work with pride,” said Jhorddy Lopez. “Knowing that I can change someone’s life – that makes me proud to work here.” 

“You’re in good hands with us,” closes Steve Perkins. 

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