Memories of students past and present that took part in making London 2012 the great event we will all remember! Writes Nigel Pumffrey (Senior Lecturer & Bridging the Gap Trainer, Bracknell & Wokingham College.)
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have provided students at Bracknell & Wokingham College with a golden opportunity to take part in an event that will stay in their memories forever. London 2012 was the ‘Gamesmakers’ Games, and those that volunteered have created the success that we all witnessed. Students at Bracknell & Wokingham as well as some invited from Sandhurst School had the opportunity to take part in the Bridging the Gap training. This equipped them with the skills they needed to be employed by security solutions provider G4S to secure our Games. Here are some of their stories.
My Summer at the Olympics
After a very long and stressful process I was deployed to The Lee Valley White Water Rafting Centre to finally become part of The London 2012 Olympic Games! Before I was employed by G4S I had to pass my Security Industry Authority (SIA) door supervision course that would give me a licence which would enable me to become part of a security team. After my success at passing with 85/91 I was given physical and theory training in PSA (Pedestrian Search Area), body search, bag search and patrolling. I was also chosen to use an X ray scanner so I was given further training, with many assessments which you had to gain high pass marks for you to precede to the next set of training and assessments. After all my training was completed and I had successfully passed I was able to control and identify images from a Rapiscan X – ray machine. I found this extremely interesting and exciting, especially as it has now given me another future career option in Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise. My first day was really nerve racking, I was put on to the screening area where all the officials came through, so I met the press, athletes, referees, coaches, trainers, physiotherapists and any other important people! After a couple of hours, I felt really comfortable and I loved scanning the bags, ensuring no one was bringing in any prohibited items. When I was on bag search I had to search the bags that had suspicious items in or were too cluttered to see clearly on the X ray screen. I had to search bags belonging to an athlete from Slovenia, so you have to ask ‘May I have permission to search your bag?, Do you have any prohibited items in your bag or anything that may harm me?’ He smiled at me and said ‘no but can I have your number!’ That was not what I was expecting, I said no whilst laughing with him and he gave me a Slovenian Olympic band and Olympic badge which was nice, this then started a craze with all the workers over how many badges they could collect from the athletes! On one of my shifts on X ray I came across a rubber duck in someone’s bag which was very amusing! There was also a programme on the X ray machine that tested our responses and image perception, buy planting fake images of threat items, such as bombs and guns into people’s bags. This kept us very alert and allowed us to practice the scenario if it was to happen for real. The first few times it happens, you get a very warm uncomfortable feeling flow through your body, but you have to press a button on the machine to say you have seen it and if it was planted the machine will congratulate you on finding it and remove the image so you can rescan the bag to ensure there are no real threats. On another occasion a blind man with his guide dog had to pass through the body metal detector. I was on body search at the time and his dog set off the machine! I was secretly glad because that meant I was able to search the dog and praise the dog for what a great job he was doing. We did have one scare, when someone put a huge sealed box on the machine and said it contained medals, we X rayed it and we could see all the individual boxes on the screen, but then a large dark mass in the middle. It was not what I was expecting to see and alarm bells started ringing with me! We were told in our training that if we saw anything suspicious or something that we did not expect to see to investigate it straight away. So I shouted ‘team leader support’ and suddenly everyone who was working stopped and rushed over to the screen, we were all very worried so decided to investigate. It turned out that the medals were not put inside their boxes and were in fact packed together in a bag in the middle of the box! We found the experience rather amusing, but it also gave us a chance to rehearse a real dangerous situation.
My time at the Olympics couldn’t have been better! When the games were on the atmosphere of the public as well as the athletes was amazing. The amount of different national flags, banners, tops and songs was really fun to enjoy an they made the days go extremely fast! But what made it mostly special was everyone that I worked alongside and the different jobs that I was given to do such as acting team leader and quick response. By working alongside such an amazing team meant that the days were fun and there were no arguments. I wish I could have stayed working there longer but with the venue being brought down we were unable to. It is an experience that I will never forget.
My experience at the Olympics was simply amazing. There is no other way to describe this once in a life time experience. I was also honoured enough to be given the team leader role. I did have a lot of extra responsibility to ensure everything went smoothly and that the search areas were operated as they should have been with the utmost professionalism at all times. As soon as the gates where open and the public arrived everything ran smoothly I was so proud! It also had its advantages working at the Olympics because of the people that I got to meet and greet. One of the areas which I was securing was the entrance to the royals seating/ viewing area which meant I got to see Prince Harry, Prince William, Kate, Camilla and Prince Charles up close!! I also got to meet Zara Phillips which was fantastic. The training which I received on behalf of G4S was for me absolutely life changing because I can now go and work in the security industry when I want to because I have now got my SIA licence and I am fully trained. I would not have been able to experience this if it was not for the help and support which I received from both my tutors and the college.
During my summer time when I worked at the Olympics I had opportunity to meet new people and have really good experience to work in security which is really huge responsibility. As I worked there I worked in different places round London and outside London these are: Wimbledon, Earl’s Court, Olympic Village, North Greenwich O2, Horse Guards Parade, The Mall, and Eton Dorney. While working in all these places I had a chance to be involved in all the events and help so the people that were coming to watch the games were safe at the place. I also worked with Police, Army and others that were making sure that people can be safe while being at the games.
Working at the PSA sector at the gates where people were coming through was the biggest responsibility because when I had to search a female I had to make sure that I do it properly so they don’t have anything on the that is not allowed in so no one will get hurt. Also I had to make sure that no one was taking pictures in PSA sector because that was not allowed and when there was once this couple taking pictures I had to go up to them and ask them nicely to delete all the pictures while showing me that they are doing it. Working with different people at the Olympic was a great opportunity and you can learn a lot also it was a great time and I was happy to be there.