When an emergency occurs, whether it is a cardiac or first-aid emergency, or a natural disaster or workplace violence incident, the emergency responder who makes the difference between life and death is one who is well trained. This can include individuals who receive this training as part of their profession and also average citizens.

When we consider those who train for these life-threatening situations as part of their careers, hospital staff, paramedics and police officers are the first to come to mind. But the first responders to many emergencies are not medical staff or law enforcement but security officers. Security officers are around us every day – in our workplaces, schools, banks and stores. And when these individuals are well trained, they are positioned to step in and save lives.

Last year, an off-duty security officer, Mike Garrigues,saved the life of a 3-year old boy when he used CPR after finding him face-down in a puddle of water and sand along a beach. Garrigues had just completed a CPR course as part of his training for his security position at New Jersey’s Moorestown Mall.

Training and expertise in CPR was also critical to the heroic events behind this year’s ASIS Ralph Day Security Officer of the Year award which was presented to Myisha Pullum. Each year, one security officer in the United States is recognized for outstanding service and actions in the security profession with this award by the ASIS Security Services Council. The award was presented on September 23, 2013, at the 59th Annual ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits.

Pullum was conducting rounds near the pool at the Coronado Shores condominium complex in Coronado, CA, last summer, when she heard a commotion in the pool area.

“Officer Pullum came upon an unconscious child with a parent who was attempting to shake him to consciousness,” says Mark Merideth, District Manager, AlliedBarton Security Services. “Officer Pullum took control of the situation and began administering CPR. After five minutes of CPR, water was expelled from the child’s lungs, and the child began to breathe on his own.”

“Lifeguards from the City of Coronado, police and paramedics then arrived to assist,” says Merideth. “Officer Pullum transitioned from her lifesaving role to secure the scene. She directed guests to leave the area and helped clear a safe path for paramedics to take the child to the ambulance. The responding police officers and paramedics commended Officer Pullum for her immediate actions and said she likely saved the life of the child. The child was treated at a local hospital and was released in good health.”

Security Officer Pullum’s attentive response and professionalism made the critical difference between a positive outcome and a tragic event. Officer Pullum’s timely actions reflect her dedication to duty, the application of her training, and concern for the safety of the community she serves.

Although these security officers are on opposite sides of the country, they have something very specific in common – their training. Security officer training is required not only at the start of a new assignment but throughout their career. And training is required on many subject areas. While these two examples highlight the importance of First Aid, AED and CPR training, those are only some of the training possibilities for security teams.

Heroic acts by security officers happen every day – whether it is the sensitivity to assist a lost child or the technical ability to track and report on a crime in progress through a security video system, training makes a critical difference.Terrorism awareness, fire safety, driver training, communication, customer service and industry- and site-specific training covering reporting regulations and building systems are critical. Each security officer needs unique training and certification to prepare them for the responsibilities at the site to which they are assigned.

Security officers patrol the interior and exterior of the premises where they work. If there is a disturbance or emergency situation where someone’s life is in danger, the security officer is often the first on the scene. Well trained security officers are vitally important. Security officers who are confident in the skills learned through training become an incredible resource for their workplaces, and their communities.

When hiring security officers, enterprise security leaders should look closely at training requirements and include ongoing educational efforts in their budgets to ensure officers are able to provide the best value to the business – especially in the most critical, life-and-death situations.