Security… identification and access

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Security is a task with many components. Often overlooked is control of who is in our facility. After all, what harm is done? So we provide an informal temporary scholarship or an undocumented guest pass. Big deal! But, it is! Entrance into our facility is access to the personal property that our members have placed in their lockers, access to our members themselves, even access to our children. We cannot be nonchalant when charged with such great responsibilities. So…how can we control facility access?

Retinal scanners and palm or fingerprint readers

These provide positive identification and are great. They also require articles of identification that are pretty difficult for members to forget at home or for imposters to steal or counterfeit. The speed of present technology may cause a bottleneck during peak hours, but the most common dissuading factor is simply cost.

Magnetic card readers

These greatly streamline the entry process but unfortunately vary in effectiveness due to the software associated with them. Those that flash an image of the member whose card was scanned onto a monitor so it can be compared to the person entering are great. However, without that feature such cards just provide fast, easy, unauthorized access for anyone who finds or steals a card…high-tech insecurity, an access nightmare.

Photo-membership cards

These with or without magnetic strips are also good. They should be considered the minimum acceptable standard. However, it is only by establishing and enforcing procedures that require verification of every entrant’s identification that they are effective in keeping the facility secure.

Non-picture membership cards

These can be nearly as effective as photo-membership cards, but only if they are always used in conjunction with government-issued photo-identification. Members, however, do not like the inconvenience of having to produce 2 pieces of ID, and most children cannot easily obtain the latter document. For non-picture ID to be an acceptable protocol without such verification, every person that ever sits at the front desk must personally know everyone who is authorized to enter…basically impossible, and unreasonable to expect even for a very small organization.


Now that we have controlled the members we know, what about guests? Certainly we must be at least as stringent in our efforts here. After all, hopefully s/he who seeks to do us harm is most likely not one of us. Best practices would require guests to individually register and sign a waiver. The guests’ government-issued identification should be examined and photocopied. Alternatively, but less efficient and less satisfactory, the pertinent information could be manually copied. Since children don’t have the preferred identification, gathering their pertinent information will suffice, but a call to their listed phone number would be prudent to verify its accuracy and that the parents know they are at your facility. Loose-leaf sign-in books with integral waivers are available to Redwoods’ clients by contacting our office.

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.

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