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Don MacAlister - Chief Operating Officer, Paladin Security


1. What involvement have you had with IAHSS (past and present)?
I joined IAHSS in 1994 and was part of a small group of Vancouver-area industry professionals who formed the BC Chapter in 1995. For our Chapter I have served in virtually all the Executive positions, including Chair and have also held the Regional Chair position. I was also elected to the international Board in 2007, as member-at-large. This is my tenth year serving on the IAHSS Guidelines Council and I was part of the Design Guidelines Task Force who produced the IAHSS Design Guidelines in 2012. Have presented at various local, national and international IAHSS events and have written journal articles for IAHSS as well over the years.

2. What habit / training / philosophy most helped you progress in your career?
Well first I’ve always had a philosophy that you’ll never outwork me, I was raised to work hard, be loyal to my employer and always give my best to anything I do. In my career I’ve had positions I did not enjoy and yet I always gave my all to every aspect of that job. Work like your boss is standing over your shoulder in all that you do my dad always said. Second is to believe in yourself and know that all your work and life experience, your education and training will one day come together, often in a way you never imagined, in a career path that has meaning and brings you joy. Finally, treat people well in all that you do and know that one day your paths are likely to cross again, in this small industry, and people remember feeling respected and valued, just as they remember not feeling that from your interactions with them. Surround yourself with people you can learn from and those who value what you bring to their lives as well – mentor and seek out mentors.

3. What, if anything, hindered your progress? 
Likely not believing in myself when I was young and settling for jobs that were “comfortable” as opposed to opportunities that challenged and excited me. I likely should have finished my BA before the age of 49 as well though, in retrospect, I think the life experience helped enrich the academic environment for me.

4. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself at the start of your career?
Try to find what you are passionate about early in your career. I fell into healthcare at the age of 33 and knew I had found what I’d been looking for, but took a circuitous route through the federal corrections and campus work experiences before I found healthcare. I would also have started post-secondary education earlier and part time, at the expense of some of my social activities. Be more of a risk-taker to find the right fit as opposed to having the safety net of a steady comfortable job.

5. What professional achievements are you most proud of? 
I think co-authoring the industry textbook Hospital and Healthcare Security , 6th edition is very important to me, and to the industry. In the same light, I feel I have made a substantial contribution to establishing healthcare security as a profession in Canada, and to further professionalizing it outside of Canada. I take great pride in having worked with so many of today’s healthcare security leaders over the years and am grateful for the opportunity to still work with many of them, across Canada and in the US. Critically important areas like training, incident reporting, prevention and management of aggressive behaviour and strong linkages with clinical programs have all been shaped and focused through initiatives I have been involved in. The international work in writing operational and design guidelines for IAHSS has been really rewarding and has exposed me to some of the best healthcare security minds in the world for nearly a decade. I also have fond memories of running health authority EOC’s during significant emergency events and working to embed a culture of emergency management in our organizations. Finally I’d say I’m really proud to have transitioned successfully from the public to private sector and to have had the opportunity, through my roles with Paladin, to influence programs across the country, to learn from others and to impart knowledge, and to help to further professionalize the private security industry these last few years in particular.

6. What are your goals for the future?
Once one of the ‘young” healthcare security leads, time has marched on and there is so much great young talent emerging in our industry, supported by healthcare security senior leaders who still have plenty of career ahead of them. I think I still have a role to play in helping to shape our profession and I want to make sure I can help support the current and this next wave of leaders in the next short while. I like working in the US and supporting programs there as well as other areas of Canada where our profession is still taking shape but who face the same challenges and issues we all do. Healthcare security is in a mature state in BC, we’ve been working at it for 30 years now and it’s still improving every day thanks to the great group of professionals we have.



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