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Sunshine Team Members Serve as Critical Eyes and Ears

Careful training increases safety and security for all

According to, mass shooting incidents have grown from 269 in 2014 to 417 in 2019, with 117 deaths from mass shootings already reported as of the end of March, 2021. We unfortunately live in a dangerous world. To create more safety, all of us, including workers in unlikely roles, must be more involved and more aware.

At Sunshine, team members are given extra training to enable them to serve as vital eyes and ears to help spot potentially dangerous situations. The Employee Security and Awareness Program (ESAP) is provided to every Sunshine employee, and as a result, has helped to head off would-be tragedies, return lost valuables and comfort those in need. Facility managers have long appreciated this added level of awareness.

In two instances, Sunshine restroom attendants found suspicious items in the trash. In the first situation, a real gun was discovered when the trash was emptied. The team member discretely moved the trash into a nearby janitor’s closet and notified her supervisor immediately. Separately, an attendant discovered a stun gun in the restroom trash. She also quietly wrapped it in a towel and transferred it to her trash barrel. Once outside of the crowded restroom, she handed it to a nearby police officer.

This instructor-led training, which is provided as part of new employee orientation for all workers and is repeated periodically as refresher training, emphasizes the importance of using discretion and deferring specific actions to authorities and supervisors.

All workers are instructed to have their official badge or identification clearly visible at all times, first and foremost. Using videos and photograph examples, they are also taught to spot anything that looks suspicious or out of place, person or thing, including packages, bags or vehicles.

At each location, staff members are taught to become familiar with all emergency procedures, alarm and exit locations and any evacuation protocols, and to keep emergency numbers in easy access at all times. The universal “Keep Calm, Call 911” messaging is incorporated into the training.

The importance of this training was clearly illustrated in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Ft. Lauderdale Airport in January of 2017. After just witnessing the event in Terminal 2, a woman was dazed and hysterical, and was not comprehending directives to evacuate. An ESAP-trained Sunshine employee at the airport knew exactly what to do. He took the woman by the hand, consoled her, and escorted her, along with other evacuees, to a safe place across the street. The Sunshine employee sat with the woman until she collected herself and was safely reunited with her companions. She dubbed him her “guardian angel.”

Another airport case reflected the value of honesty and observation. A manager found a bag on a seat in the hold area on the concourse and quickly turned it into lost and found. Luckily, the bag, which contained an iPad and close to $10,000 in cash, was safely returned to the owner. The manager earned an ESAP Award and an additional reward from the passenger.

In another example of the effectiveness of ESAP, a Sunshine manager was working the overnight shift at a convention center. She noticed a man entering the building at the far end of the hallway at about 2 a.m. He was not another Sunshine employee or a uniformed convention center employee; therefore, his presence was suspicious. The manager walked to the end of the hallway to see if she could help him. When she turned the corner, the man entered the door to the kitchen area. Knowing this was the only entrance/exit, she waited until he emerged five minutes later carrying several shopping bags. He was not wearing a badge or a uniform, so the manager questioned him about his presence and lack of badge. He said he worked for the convention center but forgot something earlier, including his badge. Remaining suspicious, she notified night security. When security reached him, they discovered cases of frozen seafood and steaks he was attempting to steal.

Another important aspect of the ESAP training is the review of “Red Flag” indications. This education allows team members to be able to detect potential issues, primarily with co-workers. Among the many warning signs workers are taught to observe and report, if necessary, are:

· Changes in behavior patterns, such a disruptive actions or outbursts

· Excessive tardiness or absenteeism, or poor work performance

· Disrespect of authority

· Confusion, forgetfulness

· Social isolation

· Decline in personal hygiene

· An unusual fascination with weapons, grudges against others or expressions of desires to hurt others

· Alcohol or drug abuse

In all instances, workers are instructed to be careful and confidential, to avoid getting directly involved but to report any worrisome circumstances to their supervisors or human resources representatives. Sunshine has a detailed procedure for staff members to follow when reporting sensitive information.

We have seen firsthand that well trained employees can serve as critical sources of information. Their observations have and will continue to help provide safer environments for our customers and their staff and clients.

Together, we can help protect each other.