Lowly-paid guards handicapped in dealing with crowd

Lowly-paid guards handicapped in dealing with crowd

When things turn ugly, as in the LNJP case, private guards dont prove to be very effective

Maintaining law and order has been an exclusive territory of the police.

But for the last few years, private security guards have been hired to watch over daily affairs even in government offices. Not to be left behind, even government hospitals have been using the services of private security firms for crowd management on their premises.

But when things turn ugly, as in the case of Lok Nayak Hospital, the effectiveness of these guards is in serious doubt. 

According to police, the guards are sometimes responsible for tempers flaring up between patients’ attendants and hospital employees.

However, managing a hospital crowd is different from managing people in malls or banks. Lack of training in interacting with people at hospitals, language barrier and discouragement due to low salary are some of the reasons why private security guards failed to avoid incidents like the one happened in LNJP.

“A majority of those who visit hospital are impatient, anxious and worried about the well-being of their loved ones. Tempers run high at the slightest of provocation,” said Sanjay, a guard at AIIMS. 

“To manage such a crowd, behavioural training must be imparted to them. But most private security firms don’t train them in acquiring this skill. I learnt how to interact with visitors in hospital after 14 years of service,” he said.

At least 900 private guards are deployed at AIIMS, including the trauma centre. The guards say they may be doing a job that is similar to the one done by the men in khaki, but when it comes to remuneration, they are just the police’s poor cousins. 

A private guard earns Rs 6,000 to Rs 6,500 per month, while the armed ones earn a few thousands more. However, several others are working for a much lesser amount. A guard on duty, well into his fifties, said matters become volatile occasionally because two groups of people who are already under strain come into contact.

“Most guards are not motivated enough to work well as they are paid less. They are mired in their personal problems. To expect them to behave well with people who are themselves rude is difficult,” said Jai Kishan, a guard at Safdarjung Hospital. 

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