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A new era: HSC to deploy institutional safety officers next week

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New safety officers will be on patrol at Health Sciences Centre (HSC), and they're going to have the power to arrest and detain people who present a threat to staff, patients and visitors.

Shayna Fontaine has worked at HSC for nine years, and during that time some scary incidents have happened.

"It tends to happen before I get to the situation. But you hear about it after, or you're in the parkade and you walk by somebody, and there's something that's going on," said Fontaine.

Officials at HSC say the list of issues over the years has been lengthy - from vandalism to assault.

"Our patients get assaulted, our staff sometimes gets assaulted,” said Dr. Shawn Young, COO at HSC. “We need ways to be better able to support them."

That support is on the way.

Starting Monday, institutional safety officers or ISOs, will be on the job patrolling HSC.

They'll be deployed throughout the facility, including in the emergency room.

"They will have the pepper gel, they will have the ability as well to restrain patients and folks who are escalated, who need to be restrained. ISOs have heightened powers,” said Uzoma Asagwara, Manitoba Health Minister

The number of ISOs at HSC will initially be relatively low. About 10 will be on duty in the first wave.

But more people are in the process of being trained.

"We're going from zero. We'll get to half a dozen, or a dozen, in each training session to get us up to the full 40,” said Young.

Young said this is just a part of a broader effort to enhance security at the hospital. That change sounds very good to Fontaine.

"I think that's going to make everyone feel safer on campus," said Fontaine.

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