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Staff Spotlight: Securitas

By Mike Wood

Staff writer

 

Wednesday, March 13 (9:30 a.m.): Securitas, the private security company that provides Rossmoor with gate access, patrol, emergency medical technician and Stair Trac services, is based out of Stockholm, Sweden.

Its name is Latin for security, points out Phil Kocher, Securitas’ lead administration clerk in Rossmoor.

Worldwide connections aside, Securitas has been a much-relied-upon asset in this community since 2006, entering into a new five-year contract with GRF at the start of 2023.

Working closely with GRF Public Safety Manager Tom Cashion, Securitas has 33 employees within Rossmoor. While Securitas’ administration is based in the Public Safety building at Creekside, its hub is the main entrance, where an estimated 3.4 million entries come through the front gate annually.

“That’s the heartbeat of Rossmoor,” Cashion said. “To be able to do what they do in a timely fashion, and be able to do that with a customer service angle, is huge.”

Rossmoor’s gatekeepers

To spend a few moments observing (at a safe vantage point) the action at the front gate, there’s the constant roar of vehicles, and most notably, how efficiently gate officers process the flow of drivers.

“I personally think the gate, especially here, is one of the toughest positions,” said Steve Bertolozzi, Securitas account manager for Rossmoor. He aims to start out new officers at the gate, because that is such a vital role in learning the community.

While working at the gate is crucial for the flow of traffic and maintaining a safe community, Securitas EMTs might be attending to a resident whose life could be in peril.

Andres Osorio began working here as an EMT in 2018 and became EMT supervisor about two years ago.

“We have that special ability to make that person’s life much better when a situation arises,” Osorio said. “That is like a superpower to us, and why we love our jobs.”

Everyone from Cashion to Bertolozzi to Osorio emphasizes that in a true emergency, 911 must be the first call. In many instances, time is precious.

“(In some cases) when we get there, we have to upgrade the call, so there’s a delay,” Osorio said, pointing out that the EMTs cannot transport residents, though Securitas works closely with the Contra Costa Fire Protection District and American Medical Response.

Life-saving efforts

Heroic actions by Securitas officers have saved residents’ lives, like in October 2021 when Osorio and fellow officer Ritesh Raj quickly aided a resident who did not realize how badly injured he was by a fall into a glass cabinet. Osorio and Raj were honored as Securitas Officers of the Year for 2021, selected from among 120,000 Securitas employees in North America.

The call was dispatched as a non-injury lift assist, but the responders right away realized it was more serious.

“It’s just me and my patrol officer, but there’s no 911 activation,” he said. “And I get there and the patient’s going into shock due to the glass that’s behind his head and he’s bleeding out. Keeping him alive for the next 15 to 20 minutes was basically the most vital thing that you can do.”

Calls can vault into serious or even life-or-death situations, he said.

“Sometimes, (residents) don’t realize that they’re badly injured, and they’ll call us for a non-injury lift assist, and then I get there, and their hip is completely dislocated, they completely tore their knee, or they have some sort of back fracture, but since they suffer from neuropathy, they can’t feel it,” Osorio said.

Kocher and administration clerk Olga Tikina often are the workers residents see at the Public Safety front desk, getting help with items like vehicle RFID tags, whether for a new car or a renewal.

In a decade working in Rossmoor with Securitas, Kocher has done “a bit of everything.” He’s worked for Securitas in various parts of the East Bay for about three decades.

“I started down at the gate here as an extra person answering phones,” he said. “I worked my way into StairTrac for a couple of years, then supervisor.”

Tikina is a native of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Before coming to Rossmoor two years ago, she worked for Choice In Aging in Pleasant Hill, helping seniors to stay active as long as possible. She realized that working with seniors was fulfilling.

“I did not know it before and did not expect it, but I did enjoy working with them,” Tikina said.

Both Kocher and Tikina said they love their surroundings.

“I enjoy wildlife like deer coming right to your office,” Tikina said. “I do like nature and hiking, and when I don’t have time for it, I like that nature comes to me.”

Amy Carman works part time, helping with administration, which can be entering vehicle information, processing renewal letters or lending a hand at the front desk. She’s been here for a year.

“Everybody’s great,” Carman said. “It’s a great environment to work in.”

Bertolozzi brings 33 years of police department experience to his job, 22 with the Walnut Creek Police Department and the rest with South San Francisco. He’s the first police lieutenant and the first Walnut Creek PD veteran to serve in Rossmoor in that role with Securitas.

“Steve knows the community, and having worked for the Walnut Creek Police Department is a huge benefit,” Cashion said. “He has many connections with the city and emergency agencies.”

While Bertolozzi’s experience aligns well with his Rossmoor responsibilities, he points out that Securitas is not a police force.

“What I want to impress upon our community is that when there’s an emergency, they should be calling 911 first,” he said.

Communication is vital

Still, communication with residents is vital for Securitas, and Bertolozzi covets keeping those lines of communication open. Most case reports are instigated by calls from residents, though in rare instances a patrol officer will find something like vandalism or damaged property while making the rounds.

During daytime hours, there are three mobile officers. They could be checking on vehicles parked for a long time, finding open doors, broken gates, medical emergencies, a pipe bursting inside a manor, and more.

Bertolozzi is looking forward to the replacement of gate arms that were taken down temporarily in lanes 1 and 2. There’s also implementing more elements of the DwellingLive system, such as clubs having the ability to compile their own guest lists.

“Ultimately, what I’d love is it to be that people are self-sufficient with regard to who they add to their guest list,” he said. “Rather than having to call down at the gate and provide us with the information, they have the ability to do it themselves. Down the road, everybody’s going to have that access, and that’ll make things run even smoother than they are now.”

Kimberlee Blunt is site supervisor, playing a crucial role in the fast-moving flow of Securitas within Rossmoor.

“I depend heavily on her,” Bertolozzi said.

Blunt has worked here for eight years, starting as a gate officer and becoming a supervisor two months later. She’s been site supervisor for the past three years.

“I’m here even when I’m not here,” Blunt said, describing how she recently sprang into action late at night from home when a suspected gas leak on Running Springs Road, which turned out to be exposure to bear spray, prompted ConFire to evacuate some nearby residents.

“Some days are chill, and then all hell breaks loose, is how we say it,” Blunt said.

She could be anywhere during a shift, from being stationed at the front gate or at Public Safety or out in the field.

“I love the employees that we have here that really care for the community and the people within it,” Bertolozzi  said. “The ones who care… who absolutely want to do their best job for the people in Rossmoor.

“Andres, he is one of those,” Bertolozzi added. “He has done a lot for this community. Kimberlee is another one of those. She’s done a tremendous job up here. She cares about the community and the people that she supervises.”

Cashion noted that regular meetings with regional Securitas officials ensure top-notch service within the community.

“Securitas goes above and beyond what is expected, and the officers do the little things that make a difference in residents’ lives,” he said.

That might be a call about a beeping noise in a manor at 2 a.m. While that might just be replacing an alarm battery, the reassurance provided to residents is substantial, especially for seniors who have become less independent with age.

“For those people, when things happen, it’s unsettling,” Cashion said. “And here you have Securitas at a moment’s notice. For someone who is scared, it’s a huge benefit to lower that fear.”

The experience of knowing the community is vital.

“We’ve been rooted here for close to 20 years,” Blunt said, noting that some staff have worked in Rossmoor even before Securitas arrived in 2006. “We’re so deep rooted in here, we know so much where we can assist in a situation. We know every entry and every crawl space.”

A sense of responsibility motivates Securitas officers when troublesome situations arise.

“I love being put to the challenge and finding out what’s wrong with my patient,” Osorio said. “What can I do to fix it? And then how can I make that patient stable?

“At the end of the day, it’s a team, so ConFire and AMR will be here. But in the meantime, you know, there have been a lot of situations where we would have to keep the patient alive. Our service here is very vital, and it’s necessary, especially for those patients.”

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