Special Awards and Acknowledgements

The MHSDA recognition program serves to recognize and promote overall excellence and outstanding contributions to the field of healthcare security, safety and emergency management. MHSDA “Outstanding Officer” Awards are presented every January at the MHSDA “New Year’s” general membership meeting which is held at the prestigious New York Athletic Club.

Latest Award Winner

Thomas Harris

Bergen New Bridge Medical Center

MHSDA acknowledges Thomas Harris of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center at our member appreciation ceremony on January 26th. On May 23, 2022 a behavioral health patient in a secure area experienced an acute episode in which the patient pulled a security mirror off the wall, broke it, and collected a large (12”) shard of glass. The patient then wrapped a portion of the glass in a t-shirt to serve as a handle and used it as a weapon to hold clinical staff at bay while threatening to cut anyone who came near him. Clinical staff initiated both an internal panic alarm and called 911 by cell phone reporting a “hostage situation.” Other patients were secured in the day room while clinical staff retreated behind the nurse’s station where they were held at bay by the patient. Security Officers arrived on the unit while simultaneously, Bergen County SWAT officers began to arrive outside and suit up into their tactical gear. Acting Supervisor Harris came on scene and immediately established a rapport with the patient. Officer Harris, who holds black belts in four (4) different martial art disciplines, was able to verbally de-escalate the situation resulting in the patient surrendering his weapon and becoming fully compliant and apologetic. Officer Harris’ quick thinking and exceptional verbal de-escalation skills were absolutely critical to the successful conclusion of this event. As a direct result of Officer Harris’ skill and actions, more than 33 employees and patients were brought to safety. Ultimately, there were no injuries incurred by staff, and intervention by responding Police was not needed. In addition to achieving the Certified Advanced Healthcare Security Officer (CAHSO) certification from IAHSS, Security Officer Harris has attended two crisis intervention training programs. Officer Harris, a 19-year veteran of the security team, regularly serves as a Field Training Officer for new officers and as an acting Shift Supervisor. Officer Harris' professionalism, ability to speak with people, and professional skill set serve as an example to the entire team.

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Past Award Winners

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