With the increasing use of contract security guards and patrols by the aged care sector, both client and security provider must be clear of mutual obligations, expectations and limitations of these services. With so many legislative and other requirements placed on aged care operators it is understandable that some important Australian Standards sometimes fail to get an airing in compliance programs. Australian Standards in their various areas assist organisations to develop benchmarks, to establish expectations between stakeholders (e.g. facility and security company) and are sometimes used in evidence as part of civil litigation. One Standard worth considering is the Australian Standard on Guards and Patrols AS 4421: 1996, and Amendment B 1999 Minimum Alarm Response Times. From our experience in undertaking security reviews of aged care facilities it has been identified that there is often uncertainty by operators as to what standard of service they should expect from their security providers. For example, what should be the Monitoring Response time? This is the response by the alarm monitoring company (control station) to advise the security patrol company (or designated person, e.g. key holders) they have received an alarm. Or, what should be the Patrol Response time? This is the time in which the patrol company responds to a call after being notified by the monitoring control room (often a separate company) of receiving an alarm. Part B3 of the amendment for Monitoring Response Time states: “The following monitoring response time shall apply:
|(a)||When patrol response is the first action||Less than or equal to 5 min.|
|(b)||When patrol response is a subsequent action from the time authority is given or confirmed to send a patrol response.||Less than or equal to 5 min.|
|(c)||When late to close||Less than or equal to 25 min.”|
Part B4.1 of the Amendment for Patrol Response Time states: “…the following patrol response times shall apply:
|(a)||Standard alarm response||Less than or equal to 35 min.|
|(b)||Late-to–close||Less than or equal to 45 min.|
|(c)||Weekday response, where provided||Less than or equal to 75 min.”|
In both B3 and B4.1 response times may be negotiated, however, these should be agreed upon and articulated in the Service Level Agreement (SLA). Response times in both scenarios should be checked on a regular basis. This can be undertaken by requesting a report from the monitoring station which will provide the time of receipt of an alarm to notifying the security patrol company and/or authorised key holders (those people in the organisation given the security responsibility) and possibly (depending on arrangements) the arrival on site of the security patrol response. A definition of particular interest is the Total Response Time (TRT), this is the time elapsed between an alarm activation (A) and arrival on site of a security response (AOS). The TRT does not include the alarm reset time (ART). It should be noted there may be genuine exceptional circumstances for delays in response times, e.g. storms, floods, road accidents, etc. There are other exemptions under Section B4.2 of which a user of these services should also be aware.
NOTE: The response area should be agreed between the client an the monitoring company.” A copy of AS 4421: 1996 Guards and Patrols and its Amendment can be obtained from Standards Australia Website, click here.
Leon Harris CPP, is the principal consultant for Harris Crime Prevention Services.
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