Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Securing the Pikin Dem

IMG_3799The Welbodi Partnership is pleased to introduce a guest blogger from the Freetown-based International Military Advisory and Training Team  (IMATT). Major G D Hogg of the UK Royal Marines has been volunteering his time over the last few months to help upgrade security at the compound shared by the Ola During Children’s Hospital and the neighboring Princess Christian Maternity Hospital.

With Major Hogg’s help, the hospitals have formed a joint security committee and have identified steps to ensure the safety of patients and staff and the security of equipment and supplies. These include training for the hospital security guards, delivered by IMATT’s own security team. Below is an account from Major Hogg from the first of these training sessions.

The Welbodi Partnership and our hospital partners are grateful to Major Hogg and to his IMATT security colleagues for all their time and effort in planning and executing this project.


On Friday April 3, I arrived at the “Cottage” hospital compound housing the Ola During Children’s Hospital and Princess Christian Maternity Hospital with a team of very excited IMATT security officers for the first day of security training for the hospitals’ own security team. The aim of this first day was twofold: to instill a sense of pride and confidence among the hospitals’ security officers; and to introduce them to specific security tactics and procedures.

clip_image002The day began with a morning of lectures delivered by locally employed IMATT Security Officers covering various topics such as public relations, crowd control, use of equipment, and patrolling techniques, followed by practical training in the afternoon around the hospital site.

It was clear from the outset that the guards were at a novice level regarding some of their procedures and tactics. However, this was overcome by a keen desire to learn and by limitless enthusiasm from all who took part.

clip_image006This was highlighted during equipment training, which injected a bit of unexpected humor into the day. After receiving a demonstration on how to use hand-cuffs properly, all of the guards were given their own sets to practice with on each other and then keep for future use. After a flurry of activity in which everyone grabbed a set and put them on their respective “partners”, they all realized that the keys were mixed up in a pile at the bottom of the bag.

This all occurred at 11 a.m., at which time I decided to escape for a long lunch to return at 1p.m., when the final student was being “released”.

It was encouraging to see throughout the morning’s lectures and discussion that the guards were sensitive to the issues surrounding security at both hospitals such as the movement of staff at night, single females, and most importantly the patients. To that end, discussion was key when exploring scenarios and at every juncture a robust and workable solution was sought.clip_image002[1]

The afternoon involved a practical security patrol, where the guards were taken around the perimeter of the hospital site and issues and scenarios were discussed. Here, it was key that a solution to the problems presented, came from the guards themselves, and for most cases they presented intelligent and well thought out answers.



The next phase of the training will involve specific modules in vehicle searching, controlling entrance and exit points of the hospital site and night patrolling (to be conducted during night time hours at the hospital). The IMATT security guards thoroughly enjoyed the chance to stand up in front of a class of students and pass on their knowledge and experience and will be involved in all future training.

The day was a complete success. The guards reacted well to the training and instruction that they were given and showed animated enthusiasm for further training. The purchase of more equipment such as flashlights and night uniforms will be a catalyst to exploit further advances to those made so far.


The Ola During Children’s Hospital and Princess Christian Maternity Hospital Security Team

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