The first day behind locked doors.

You wanted a first? My first day at my new job.

There were twelve steps up to the cement porch and the bluish grey steel door with an intercom system built into the wall. I stood at the door and pressed the button.  The guard in the booth asked me who I was and what I wanted.  I explained I was the new hire.  He rang me into the horseshoe hallway with the glass divider.  I walked to the glass enclosed case and he directed me to enter the second steel door.  Going over to the secretary, I told her who I was and she asked me to wait in the visitor room for the Daylight Nursing supervisor.  I would be training on her shift.

The visitor room’s right side wall was a line of windows looking out on to the courtyard.  It was surrounded by a 2 story brick wall topped with Concertina wire. When the supervisor arrived, we signed for my keys. I would keep those keys for the whole time I worked there but return them every night to the security cage when I left.   Walking down a long hallway, we reached another metal door with an intercom. Because the guards in the book had a camera system, they rang us through before we could ring the intercom. Another hallway took us further into the depth of the building and another door again steel with an intercom we had to be rung through took us to a set of stairs descending for 15 steps. Our locker room and the Gym was located there.

The next set of steel doors at the end of this hallway lead to a staircase. I was assigned to the 4th floor. There were 20 stairs per flight of steps and two flights per floor. Reaching the third floor, I could use my key to unlock the steel door after checking through the window to make sure no one was standing at the door waiting to jump me. The ward was long. It housed 5 bed units that held 5 beds each. It also contained a large shower room, a Nurses station, A day room and an activity room. There was a second ward that was the reverse of this unit. The Nurses Station was on the far side. In the center between the two units was a recreation room and a large cafeteria. On the other side of the hallway was the Chapel and a conference room. There was also an elevator which dietary would bring the meals up on and serve in the cafeteria. No cooking happened in the cafeteria. Part of our job was to unlock the main door to the elevator when Dietary called and asked to be set up for the meal. We stayed with them the whole time they were on the floor and returned them to the elevator.

I was assigned to training on the 2nd unit during daylight. My shift would be 3-11 after I finished training. My first day of orientation was locating where things were at and reading the charts which also contained the charges of the inmates. All our inmates where mentally ill or in for evaluation by the court to determine if they were mentally ill. The two units on the top were men. The female unit was on the floor below. There were 78 men and 30 women.

The job was very easy for the first day. I simply shadowed and read. I was familiar with this because I had worked Male Behavioural Control which was a step down unit for Forensics at another hospital. Now I was working on Forensics.

The most shocking moment of my life was realizing I was playing cards with a man accused of murder, one accused of holding a Wal-Mart hostage and a one who stole a Pepsi truck so he could go back to jail. When we asked him what he was going to do with it, he said drive it here and give it away to the patients on the civilian side. He could have at least made it a Coke truck.

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4 thoughts on “The first day behind locked doors.

    1. My job title was technically Psychiatric Security Aide. It meant we had the training so we were mental health technicians but we also were prison guards and had to maintain security.

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