By Chris Gazenbeek,
During the Event
Recent armed hold-ups serve as a timely reminder that being caught up in an armed robbery is a very real risk for retail and fast food workers, especially for those who work alone at night.
The following are some basic principles to keep you safe should you be caught up in an armed robbery:-
- Do not try to be a hero – money is not worth risking your life for;
- Stand still – Don’t make any sudden movements, answer a ringing phone, etc.;
- Do what the robber tells you to do, and do it quickly;
- Remain calm and quiet – do not draw attention to yourself, avoid direct eye contact with the robber;
- Do not chase offenders – if they are armed, they may use their weapon to guarantee their escape;
- Contact the Police by ringing ‘000’ as soon as the robber has left the premises and it is safe for you to do so;
- Seal off the area to preserve evidence until the Police arrive.
After the Event
For anyone caught up in an armed robbery, the impact of that event usually does not stop when the robber leaves the premises. Apart from the obvious possibility of violence and physical injury during the robbery, many victims of armed robbery suffer some degree of psychological trauma after the event, and some may suffer ongoing trauma for some time after such an experience.
It is therefore important for your employer to have in place post holdup procedures which facilitate timely access for victims to utilise external professional counselling services.
If you are affected by an armed robbery by suffering either physical injury and/or stress (for example, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc.) after the event, remember that you are entitled to claim Workers’ Compensation to cover any time you lose off work as a result or any medical expenses incurred in seeing your Doctor or a Psychologist and in getting the medical treatment required.
If you have been too traumatised to return to the workplace where the robbery took place, your employer should assist by offering to return you to work in another role or at a different workplace. If your employer is less than helpful, please contact the union office.
Your employer should have written ‘Armed Holdup and Post Holdup Procedures’ already in place. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with these procedures.
Remember also that the Union provides a free professional and confidential counselling service for members in such circumstances. You only have to phone the Union to access this free service.