Securing the Line

Feb. 1, 2004

Ground support workers have to be careful concerning safety, but what about security issues? In the post 9/11 world, line workers can be prepared with proper training. NATA's Safety 1st security module is the first step, writes Alicia Hammond

February 2004

In recent months concerns about terrorist attacks have hit an all time high since 9/11. With constant rumors and a fluctuating terror advisory alert, being prepared is a top priority for airports. The public is very aware about what is going on in the airport terminal but are there any security measures being taken by the people who work on the line? This was the concern of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). Having already come out with the Safety 1st training program in 1998, NATA has consistently added new modules. Beginning last fall Safety 1st distributed a new part of the program concerning security. "We had been discussing subsequent modules and thinking about doing the security module since 9/11 and thought it was a logical next module to our nine other modules," says Amy Koranda, NATA's Manager of Education and Training. "Who else besides the line is always out there observing what's going on? We thought that they are an intricate part of assuring that things are going to be safe and secure out there." The learning objectives of the module are:
  • To understand the importance and impact of security
  • To be familiar with the national agencies involved in security
  • To explain and understand the responsibility each airport worker has for a safe, secure environment
  • To understand and observe daily events concerning customers, fellow employees and general surroundings
  • To explain and understand the responsibility each airport worker has for a safe, secure environment
  • To understand and observe daily events concerning customers, fellow employees and general surroundings
  • To be familiar and understand the different access requirements for the airport/facility
  • To understand and be familiar with media requests and telephone threat procedures
  • To understand and be familiar with badge credentials and proper procedures for valid checks
"What we have done in the security module is we have told them their role in security. They are the first line of defense," says Koranda. "They are a very important link in the chain of events that could occur."
Security fences are just one measure that is advised to heighten security. The module stresses knowing your customers and their routines but also knowing your fellow employees. "Even the smallest thing they may observe could make a difference." Koranda says. "By keeping up with daily routine happenings not only with their base customers but also with the transients." The module also advises on how to deal with someone who is not supposed to be on the ramp. "We give them instruction on not being afraid to go up [to the unknown person] and greet them in a positive manner so they don't feel threatened but at the same time giving themselves a chance to find out who that person is and if they are supposed to be there," says Koranda. It is important to know what to do when an actual emergency occurs and to have that procedure known by all employees. "It depends on the emergency but we give them information on who they should contact, what happens if you see something, what makes a good witness and what kind of reporting procedures do you put in place," says Koranda. "We give them some things to think about and then share with the appropriate people."
Badges are required to access certain areas in an airport. The module was created by Airport Business Solutions, who created the initial Safety 1st Program, and follows the set-up of previous modules. Beginning with a 19-minute video that presents all of the issues on security, the module then includes a classroom section where all the learning objectives are discussed and explained in greater detail. The trainer goes over the step-by-step process of what an employee at that particular airport would do in an emergency. The module culminates in a written test, which employees must pass to continue a company's certification with Safety 1st. Koranda says that the module does not contain a step-by-step guide that is relevant to all airports but instead provides a guideline that can help set up a properly fitted plan. "Every airport and every FBO is slightly different and one size of security doesn't fit all. We give them food for thought. It is not a mandate by any means but we tell them what is really important and what you should consider doing," says Koranda. "We give them a lot of tools if they need to expand on their security plan." Although the module has just been sent out Koranda says that they have received some very positive feedback. All of the current Safety 1st participants, which includes over 500 companies, will be required to train and test employees on this section in 2004.