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Listen to Episode 118

Today, Josh is joined by Paul Timm, Vice President of Facility Engineering Associates, to discuss facility safety best practices, how to protect your security staff, how to reopen buildings securely, as well as visitor management tips. 

Show Notes: 

Show Script:

Josh Peach  
Welcome to the Operate Intelligently Podcast, the podcast for all things operations. Hello Operate Intelligently listeners, this is another episode COVID special of the Operate Intelligently podcast. I am Joshua Peach, and I am really excited to have a longtime friend with me here today. We go back 10 plus probably 15 years. He is my go-to guru everything school security-related and that's beyond active shooter. That's natural disaster. That's vandalism. That's everything. I'll tell you before I introduce you. I gotta find this picture. Actually, I'll introduce you while I'm finding the picture. His name is Paul Timm and he works for Facility Engineering Associates. And welcome Paul, my longtime friend. How are you, sir?

Paul Timm  
I'm doing well and I have a feeling I know what photo you're looking for right now.

Josh Peach  
Oh no, you haven't seen this one. I searched high and low today for this photo. I searched high and low for this photo, this is the background showcase screen. So a little background Paul is a security expert that goes in and does a lot of different things. One of the things he does is he does assessments on accessibility, and being able to get into school buildings and art access and name badge access and everything else. And he always has these pictures of rocks next to doors, which we always overlook. And those rocks because of their location is what people use to prop the doors open and make schools even more vulnerable than they are even if the doors are closed. And so I've always been one of those looking around. Now I have to look around for broomsticks, because apparently this is a school that will remain nameless. They use broomsticks to keep the doors propped open. But, Paul a little bit a little bit of background about what you do, what you are, how long you've been in this business, hy did you get into the business and let's dig into the COVID special part.

Paul Timm  
Thank you very much. Late 90s is when I came into this industry, and I came in because my dad was a physical security expert, and had 15 years at Argonne National Labs, which is a department of Energy Facility, and he started the business that then I took over. He started in 1984. At the time, it was called Rita Security. And we were acquired by FDA in 2017. But along the way, some credentials, you know, I wrote a book, it's all about school security. So I got imaginative and I call it School Security. And so, I've been able to testify before the Department of Homeland Security for their, DHS had their bid study on school security, and I was invited to testify for that.

Josh Peach  
Cool. And in the School Security book, that makes it really easy for a second one because you could just call it School Security 2. But I've read the book and the book is a great resource and tool. But you know, you were doing this 365 days a year under normal circumstances where spaces were occupied with students, faculty, citizens, taxpayers, whoever. Six weeks ago, that all changed, right? So now we're all, all the places that you would normally go are vacant, they're empty. Or they're not vacant and not empty and they're supposed to be. What advice would you give people right now, regarding those spaces, and I don't mean just the buildings, I mean, the whole envelope themselves, what are some best practices or things people should be making sure they're doing?

Paul Timm  
Yeah, thank you. And just to put it in perspective, you're right. Everything has gone to a halt. Last year and in the previous years to that, I did well over 100 school security assessments. And so I live in a building all the time. And it's ground to a halt, as you know, but there are certain things that we're talking with schools about and I'm going to mention a few of them right now. First of all, I'm in Illinois, and we just got word that schools are now closed for the rest of the semester, joining 35 other states. But when that happened, they said, Well, now how do we get belongings back to teachers and students? And we're helping with that right now. And there's a few things that we're saying. First of all, if possible, you want to have the teachers, especially at the elementary school level, those that are actually going through the desks and handing the bag to to the parents. If you can do that everybody wants to say hello and feel like there's still a connection. But of course, we're going to be using our personal protective devices. And so, a few things that you want to do. Invite local law enforcement when you have those days of returning belongings. Their already, it's kind of slow in what they're doing. If they're not patroling their local mall, the local high school, the local park, recreation place, and so invite them, they're going to want to come with. I'm sure you've heard stories of people who can't celebrate birthdays, and so they do their parade of cars in front of their house. And the police are leading that. I mean, if police can lead a birthday parade, they can be at your return of belongings. And we think that people who are directing traffic for the school should be marked with a safety vest. They should have a whistle, a radio, those those kinds of supplies just in case. We think that we should drop a letter in the bag of belongings that we're returning, that basically reminds people please do not use our playgrounds and athletic fields. I want to pause there for just a minute because most states have said that playgrounds and athletic fields are off limits. Well, that's very, very difficult for a public that's stir crazy. What do we do when people are on our playgrounds or on our athletic fields. In fact, my own daughter is a collegiate track athlete, and she's now missing the rest of this year. But she said, I'm going to go work out at the school and I said, What do you mean? How are you even going to get on the fields? And she said, I'll just hop the fence. And I was like, you know, I'm a security guy, right? I don't want you to be caught hopping a fence. And it's difficult to do that. So what we found is many schools that have security staff, Josh, are still employing those security staff. And the security staff are watching, patrolling, maybe looking at cameras, and when they're finding people in areas that are prohibited, they've got to go interact with the public to make sure again, that they have their PPE, they've got the mask on. I mean, listen, if you go out and tell someone they can't be on the field and they want to get up in your grill, you don't want to be accused of potentially spreading something.

Josh Peach  
Yeah. I didn't even think of that?

Paul Timm  
Yeah, those are difficult issues and many, many schools have posted signs that say by order of the governor these fields are off limit, but you know, we're finding that both sides are being vandalized. Padlocks are being cut. You know, people are damaging gates and fences. So all of those things are issues at this point that we have to be careful about.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, I'll tell you what, you just hit something I wasn't expecting. I just saw post on Facebook, and you know how I get about my Facebook posts and people's some of the silliness. Someone assumed that the track and field at the high school was reopened because the porta-potties were delivered. And that was just on schedule because of the scheduling of more likely than not, they have a contract with that porta-potti company that says hey, on April 15 or April 25, put the porta potties out because we got track and field, they want to get their money, or they have a contract. And there was that assumption that we were in, I'm in Massachusetts, we're under the same statewide regulations that you're under. We just canceled school until August 31, which is 131 days from now. And no parks, no fields are supposed to be accessed. And because the porta potties were delivered, all of a sudden that's on Facebook, and now everybody thinks the track and fields open and they can go out and use it. So good advice, as well as the you know, I didn't even think about the fact that if you by chance, didn't have your mask on that you're that somebody gets in your face, you can be accused of that. That's a good point.

Paul Timm  
Yeah. And by the way, and I'll say one more thing about that. I like posting and messaging of see something, say something at this time, because if something's happening when you don't have security staff there, you want someone to report that so local law enforcement can be a help. You want to at least know if somebody's been getting up on the roof, or somebody has been climbing the fence. In one case, Josh, a facilities person told me that the security person actually watched somebody scale a 10 foot fence to go play tennis with his friend. And I mean it's not easy to even get in that enclosure to say you can't be here because you've got to go get the key, you've got to unlock the padlock. And so yeah, one more thing about padlocks is you know forever I find padlocks that are left open. And that's terrible if they're attached to a chain they can be used to put around doors and bad bad things. So key retained padlocks and now they actually have Bluetooth padlock so from my cell phone I can unlock the padlock that way. I love it.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, what's the price point on one of those Bluetooth? Are they getting down in price? I know that some of them were pretty expensive a while back when they first came out.

Paul Timm  
Yeah, you know, I wouldn't be able to tell you the price but I would guess we're below $100, but how far below I, you know, I don't know.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, they were well above it when they first came out. I mean, it's a phenomenal idea, especially for accessibility, I mean, to be able to send that ping. I've got the Bluetooth enabled deadbolts on my house, where somebody could call me and say, Hey, I'm at your front door, and I can ping them to their phone and just with their Bluetooth on their phone, they can unlock my door, which is pretty cool. But that's a great point. I was just going to ask you about you know, how do you manage your key management with padlock doors or combination doors as far as knowing who's got access to it, but I think the Bluetooth would answer all those questions with a checkmark. So you know, one of the challenges that I'm seeing and I don't know, if you listen to the podcast with Paul Anastasi about after hours use of buildings and what our new normal might look like. We're gonna have to do something called reoccupy, right. At some point, we're gonna have to go back to the schools that we've been going to for hundreds of years, using for classes, using for gym time, using for pickleball tournaments, using for all different reasons. What do you envision? What are maybe some of your no cost, low cost best practices that people should start because we should really be preparing for that reoccupy. Even though I just said 131 days, we really need to be planning this reoccupying of the building today yesterday, you know. When March 16th and this started so what do you what are your thoughts on that? And what are you some of your suggestions?

Paul Timm  
Yeah, good and was one of the first things I do is have somebody in facilities walk the perimeter of the building from probably from the inside. And just make sure that doors are functional. Doors and seasonal changes and, and not in use, can seize up, they can have all kinds of issues and we don't want to encounter those issues once the public is in the building. Let's walk around and make sure those doors are functional. Let's remove the door props. So for example, take a hold of the broom behind you and get that out of there. So that it's not even a temptation. We want to make sure that any electrical panels that are in public areas are secured, we find this over and over again in assessments, there's an electrical panel and if I can just open it up I can flip breakers and stop the supply of electricity to parts of the building or worse equipment and then just flipping it back on could damage equipment as well. So those electrical panels, let's make sure that they're all secure. Let's make sure that vegetation is primed at entries, along walkways and in parking lots so we have good natural surveillance, good lines of sight and there's no areas of concealment so that's easy one and I think everyone knows the metrics now. Shrubbery in those areas should never be more than three feet tall, all tree limbs should be cleared at least eight feet high again for good natural surveillance. When we say natural surveillance, we talk about exterior lighting being good, you know if no one's been reporting the lights are out it's up to us to check and find out that they're not functional.

Josh Peach  
Spot on, yeah.

Paul Timm  
We want to make sure that there's really good visitor management. And this is something I'm saying even for parents or teachers who are picking up their belongings. We want to say this, we want to say let's have some good wayfinding signs. You've seen this at grocery stores wherethey're almost having six foot markers and lanes that you stand in. There's nothing wrong with doing that and getting ready for when people come in. Because you know this, Josh, when people come back in, there's going to be some moms who don't want their kid anywhere near another kid. And there's gonna be some kids who are bouncing off of other teams and hugging anything that doesn't move or that does move. So wayfinding signs, visitor management, this is our opportunity to get all of those things that have not been in place in place so that we can minimize the amount of headaches that we're facing once public does come back. 

Josh Peach  
Touch on the visitor management, I know that you have a product that you that you love. I love it, you're more than welcome to share it. But just the idea of what visitor management is. And just because a lot of folks don't know this, a lot of people just put a sticker that says, Hi, my name is Bob and walk around. For me, I think this is a great topic because this is something if you don't have it, there's no better time to implement it than right now when you have time and work from home and everything else. So give a little 10,000 foot view of what that definition means to you. 

Paul Timm  
Sure, let me first of all say that I hate stickers more than the spoken word can tell. So I and by the way, a public registry is anathema. I don't know how in a day of privacy and HIPAA and all of the things that are governing our privacy, we can still leave...nd by the way, sometimes I come to a main desk in a school and there's three registries, one for the visitors, one for students sign in, sign out and one for staff sign in, sign out, there's no way I should be able to walk up and get all that information. And, you know, sometimes I'll walk up and I've got my phone, I'll just take a couple photos and I'll put it in the security review saying how did you possibly, and I'll take that photo with a visitor registry after I sign in as Beyonce because no one's even looking at that registery anyway. Let's remove registries. let's ask people to produce a photo ID and let's us sign them in either electronically or in a paper registry that we're keeping private. Let's give them a badge that hangs on a colored breakaway lanyard, so all visitors are wearing whatever red breakaway lanyards with a visitor badge saying I've been authorized. And let's hold on to that idea until they come back and return that badge, so we know that they've left through the place that we want them to egress. So it's a credentials exchange.

Josh Peach  
Oh, yes. Yeah. What the percentage of schools that you go to today that still don't have a breakaway lanyard? Still high?

Paul Timm  
Oh, yes, of course it is. It's getting better but it feels like a trip. to the dentist every time. So it is getting better.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, no, you only got to get pulled on one of those things once. And especially in an environment like school, where it's very easy to do and where more people are doing it, it's such a simple two word breakaway that people should have and it should actually be policy in my opinion because I just think it's just absolutely dangerous. So we got reoccuping, getting planning, every single podcast I've done on COVID that talks about spaces and talked about it with it with the Cincinnati Zoo. I talked about calling Miss Daisy, I talked about it with all these all these different people, the grass still grows, the shrubs still grow, everything still grows during COVID, the world has not stopped. And it is very important to make sure that one we understand that. So when we're talking about budgets and money for especially for schools and communities, that that work still has to happen. And then to, you got to make sure that it happens for safety and security purposes. And I've been to schools where the grass is, you know, three feet high and the bridges are five feet off and you get two feet of in between that you can actually do any of that security management. So that's a really a big one. That's a no cost, low cost already cost that you're taken care of. What do you think? Let's get completely like crystal ball Paul Timm's thinking, six months from now, use of buildings after hours. You know, that's one of my big  hidden points because I find that the communities have such high expectations of utilization of space, meaning school buildings, to be able to access the kitchens and the libraries and the gymnasiums and everything else with low to no management of security and safety. No real headcount and in a lot of cases, you know, run of the place. What do you think that looks like? I mean, is it going to go back to business as usual, and everybody just gets used the space? Do you foresee you know, implementing a mask wearing is there going to be a, you know, not a standardized but they're going to become a best practice of knowing who's in the building all the way down to their name so you can track if another one of these happens. Because I could envision my work weird brain is sitting here saying, Man, if somebody tests positive and they were at a pickup basketball game at the gymnasium on Wednesday, and they got sick on Friday, we start to trace back. I want to know who's at that Wednesday pick up basketball game, so we can notify them and let them know hey, someone was at the basketball game tested positive to minimize risk. And I don't think a lot of people are doing that. What do you what do you think that looks like four to six months when this starts to clean up a little bit in life gets back to some form of normal?

Paul Timm  
Well, first of all, let me answer your original question, do I think that things are going to return to the way they were? AndI want to say this, I hope they don't. I hope they don't. And here's what I would like to see change, and what we've been recommending for a while. Number one, our rental agreements and usage agreements have no security language in them whatsoever, it's time to put the security language in them. And security doesn't have to make a new form, we can just do what I call the outside organization addendum, attach it to that and have you three or four, maybe five items. And I'm going to give you a couple ideas. One item would be this, please please issue in 24 hours in advance of your visits, who the potential attendees are going to be, which goes right to your point of I got to know who's going to be in my building, and who's been in my building. So we want to know that, we want to call their attention to the fact that we have posted evacuation maps. Right now people mindlessly walk into places they never even have oriented themselves with, where egress routes are where shelter in place areas are or rarely areas outside. We should definitely have a see something say something component if you witness suspicious activity, please contact so and so at such and such a number. So, you know, I give you a couple more, but I think we should absolutely have a security component in our rental agreements. Number two is, we're used to having just an administrator on duty, it's not good enough. The Incident Command System says, we have to have an incident commander and a backup and a backup to that person, we have to have an operations person and a backup and a backup to that person. So what I like to say is, you can look at something like the staff skills survey and just Google that and if you can't find somebody younger. But anyway, go find the staff skill survey, that should be sent out to all of your staff. Even if that person is not a teacher. They're just a coach for your sports. We should find out what skills and certifications and preparedness they have in place. Maybe they're former law enforcement, maybe they keep emergency supplies in their vehicle. Maybe they can speak more than just English as a language. We need to know from a preparation standpoint who we have in the building and how they can help if there's an incident. Now, one more thing I wanted to say is on the masks part, and also, in fact, on the temperature part because, you know, schools already have gunshot detection system, vaping detection systems, you bet schools are going to have temperature detection systems as well. I'm not in any way advocating for those things. But what happens when we find that? Who is going to address that person? What's the policy, we should be documenting all of those things right now, including masks. What would be our policy? Let's put a straw man together and start blowing it apart so we don't have to be reactive. And by the way, it's going to be interesting what we do with masks. Are kids going to return with masks and if they are, I mean, who's deciding what kind they are, how we're social distancing, and what happens when that visitor comes in with a mask and then gets to go wherever they want to go. Especially after hours, that's difficult. So, now is the time to start collaboratively putting together these practices.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, no, I'm with you and I, what I'm really feeling and listening to you and just kind of my feelings on this is, I think a lot of school administrators and superintendents and boards have struggled with implementing these security regulations and these requirements because of pushback. And now, I think that they can leverage this pandemic to get buy in and support telling the right story, which is the true story. You know, before it was just wanting to be big brother or you're just you know, you're just doing this for whatever reason. Now, it's a legitimate issue now it's, hey, we really need to know who's in here for the safety and health of not just you but our entire community. And I agree with you, I think that there's going to be, you know, this is going back to I think 2014, when the potential for the Ebola outbreak happened. I flew to Dallas, the day after that patient was admitted. And I got to the car service at the airport, they took my temperature. And the driver took their temperature. And it was actually a cell thermometer that had access to a cell phone subscription. So it was actually sending the readings back to the drivers company, to make sure so the technology's there, it just hasn't been adapted. And it's just a new level of, I guess, temporary discomfort for a long, long time of comfort, I guess, insecurity. So I'm with you on that. I'm a little bit scared on the mask idea. I mean, I'm buying, I'm using them and I'm wearing them and everything else, but I just hate to think that that's the world that we're gonna potentially be living in where people are gonna be wearing masks for a while to just go out. It's been a tough thing for me to grasp.

Paul Timm  
And listen, as you mentioned a heightened sense of awareness is our friend. There's no doubt about it, the more people are not wanting to confuse that with paranoia.

Josh Peach  
Which you what you may or may not have accused me of once or twice.

Paul Timm  
But somebody who's being careful that then is somebody who I want on my site. Somebody who's walking around with a Mayberry mentality, that person is doing nobody any good, including themselves in always comparing to a safe driver, a defensive driver, they're not so afraid that they won't be on the road or they pull over as soon as they see another motorist. But they're also not driving around la la la. Like there's no threats or vulnerabilities to be careful about. So, heightened awareness is going to be good for sure. And this is the time like you said, we're doing it for the kids. We're doing it for the safety of everybody. This is the time to capitalize on that.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, a hundred percent. I think this has been great. Just some great takeaways. I think that there's a lot to learn here and a lot more to learn. And I think that this is a work in progress. This is a daily minute changing world that we're going through right now with this stuff. Are you still doing assessment? Are you off the road? I know you and I talked briefly about this, but I mean, what are you doing right now? And, and how do people get ahold of you if they want to learn more, do more?

Paul Timm  
Yeah, thank you for asking. And pretty much, you know, most of the facilities that we work with are closed. But I will tell you, we have on letterhead that we're an essential business to be able to be in places like that. But we're actually, gosh, doing our first virtual assessment in the state of Minnesota next week, and they can't let us in, but they can let in their own employees and they're going to go in with the camera and take video and we're going to analyze so we've had to outfit them with the things that we want them to look for. And it's interesting, you know, we're all adapting to this. In terms of contacting me, my email address is paul.timm@feapc.com, which is Facility Engineering Associates, FEA PC Public Corporation dot com. Or you know there's a variety of and they could just google Paul Timm though, I think they'll be able to find me if they put School Security in there.

Josh Peach  
Yeah. So Paul Timm School Security anywhere, paultimm@feapc.com and they can track you down, have you do an assessment, get some more information, buy your book. I strongly suggest regardless of where you are, if you're in education, buy his book. You don't stay in the school safety and security business since the 90s if if you unless you're doing things right. And some of these things that I know, I sit in your class, I still sit in your class and learn stuff today 15 plus years later, whatever it is the first time we met. But a lot of the stuff you just go man, that seems like such common sense, but the reality is, people aren't doing it and you're bringing that awareness to people and telling them this is what you need to do and here's why. And I think that you did a lot here that could help some folks that might have even just a little bit of worry or concern of how to approach people like that's the simplest thing is how to approach people. I love to see something, say something. I think for anybody that's listening, that is seeing stuff on social media where people are getting shunned and shamed. Tell those people that they should have called the police or called security or gone someone that could have effectively done something because posting it and shaming it on social media is only adding to the impact of negative stuff. We want to be positive through all this stuff. And I think that most people don't do it with malice and poor and bad intent. I think some people are going stir crazy, cabin fever, what have you.  I'm home. You and I spoke last night. And I told you I've been home for 40 now 41 days straight and it was like there was a dead calm silence that you are amazed that I was still alive and I was here and that I've only left the house like a couple of times. So you know, I think a lot of people are they just need to get out.

Paul Timm  
And there is a wonder, Josh the road warrior can be Josh the homebody.

Josh Peach  
Figuring it out but man figuring it out. Well listen, I really appreciate you doing this I tell you. I thank you for your service and doing everything that you and your team can do to make our schools as safe as they possibly can be and driving that awareness. And now I just gave you another thing to do, which is look for those broomsticks because I wasn't looking for them, before but I appreciate you my friend. As always The Dudes always beside you, if we can do anything to help and look forward to having you on here again.

Paul Timm  
Thankful for our friendship.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, me too. I just can't, there's no words that can express the professionals that have become friends over the years, it just truly are in this for the right reasons. So keep doing what you're doing. And that'll wrap it up here for the Dude Solutions Operate Intelligently Podcast. This is the fifth or sixth COVID awareness podcast. We're going to keep doing this as long as you guys are in this challenge and we're in it together with you. We're going to keep bringing professionals like Paul and others to you and hopefully you get something from it. If you have a suggestion to us, please drop us a line. Let us know what you're looking for, what you need, or maybe even a great guest suggestion. I'm always open to it. So appreciate it. Paul, go back to Chicago time and enjoying your day. And to the listeners, we'll talk to you soon. Have a great day.

Paul Timm  
Thanks again, virtual hug.

Josh Peach  
Virtual hug, can't wait for the real one. I'm gonna have my t-shirts and like free hugs next time you see me. Thanks for listening to the Operate Intelligently Podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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