I’ve had the privilege of protecting my HNW principal and his family for some time now, but the recent global COVID-19 crisis has thrown up a new security challenge, or has it?
Is it not just another type of threat that the modern bodyguard must adapt to, or should we be covering this type of threat already? If the client would be susceptible to the virus due to the nature of their work, then how can we protect them without putting them into isolation? What emotional worries and stress will this have on the family? What new roles should we undertake? Or should we not?
What about the Household staff, or any other external visitors and contractors? What is their risk to contamination and the possibility they could pass it on to the family? Perhaps we should already be doing this? First, we need to understand how the virus is transmitted, and what safety measures can we put in place to create a safe working environment and acceptable to the family first. Don’t forget, while you may be employed to protect an individual, you also have your own family to think of!
Scientists still do not know exactly what constitutes a safe distance between one person and another person. While the guidelines vary from region to region many people can’t seem to adhere to a simple 2-meter rule. So, in reality, what should we be doing? Are we doing it already? As protectors we’re currently faced with a lot of questions which we must take into consideration. Regardless of your current policies I’m sure many of you will be revisiting SOP’s in wake of COVID-19. In this article I’ll share some of the ways in which I am dealing with the threat in my working environment.
My client is a world-famous musician and a member of a phenomenally successful band spanning over 40 years in the music industry. The cancellation of world tours and the complications created from reorganising dates and events has added to the emotional trauma that has evolved with this pandemic.
The emotional impact is just as significant as the physical threat. This pandemic is stirring up a hornet’s nest of problems that need to be addressed to ensure a smooth running of daily life for the client’s family.
Have I personally instigated new procedures? Yes, I have, and this has been made easier through the good relationship I have formed with the family. They have learned to trust me in my decision making, and they know their protection and safety is my no1 priority, even though they are having to make sacrifices through the restrictions I have suggested.
Firstly, all estate staff undergo medical checks daily to see if they might be contaminated; if they show any symptoms, then they leave the estate immediately. No external visitors are allowed on the estate. External family members have been requested to stay away and are doing so. Deliveries to the estate are handled in a separate location away from the family. PPE is worn at all times when dealing with visitors. Food deliveries are dealt with the same way. I go to supermarkets and other places to lower the chance of contamination with the public. In other words, I have established a safe perimeter around the property which I can control.
I have undertaken new roles which would not typically be covered. This means my role as a bodyguard is ever-changing. I must be able to adapt to the situation to be able to control the risk. Saying ‘it’s not my job’ is no longer acceptable, you must be adaptable to change.
In some ways, my role has morphed into that of a therapist. To prevent hysteria and panic, you must listen to the needs and worries of your client and family. You cannot suddenly become a walking medical dictionary and you don’t have inside info on when the situation will change. Still, you can offer a sympathetic ear, rational theory, and be able to come up with compromise’s that are acceptable to the family.
This can only be achieved if you have the right relationship with your principal. Remember, you work for the family; you are not family, so keeping a professional distance is more important than ever in stressful times.
Looking to the future, I envision some things will change, and some will not. However, this situation has allowed me to implement some security changes, which, in the past, may have been deemed ‘excessive’ but are now getting the green light.
My role as a family bodyguard will change as required and standard operating procedures must also adapt to these types of threats. The news is that variants of this virus will continue to surface for the foreseeable future. We must demonstrate that we can adapt too and that we’re not an outdated and unnecessary, expensive add-on which no longer serves its function.
Isolation is a word that has been used often in conjunction with this pandemic. The word itself is insular and threatening.
Isolation should not be a threat but an opportunity to establish stronger ties with your client’s. If the client and their family see that you understand their concerns and have put procedures in place to benefit them, then it will lead to a better working relationship and job security. This will enable you to make changes as necessary to their security arrangements without the usual negative responses. Isolation can seem to escalate a small problem into a seemingly large problem due to emotional worries. You, as a bodyguard, must be able to recognise these problems and act quickly to resolve them to keep the family in balance.
To summarise; you must deal with this virus as a new threat. Take control of your working environment and any outside threats. Your role and SOP’s will need to change. You will become more involved with the family, and yes, you may need to start thinking about retraining as a psychiatrist!
COVID-19 could cause your role to change permanently. Embrace it, it’s time for change!
COVID-19 Is it Just another threat?
By: David Dann
David has over 30 years’ experience within the security industry and has filled various roles from escorting artists at music festivals to protecting HNW’s and celebrities, through to his current role where he manages the security interests of a well-known Musician and his family. David is also a qualified instructor and has taught CP, DS, CCTV, First Aid Level 3, paediatrics and Stewarding.