DAVE McCool reckons he walks several miles during his 12-hour shift as a security guard at Hillingdon Hospital.

He is part of a six-strong team responsible for keeping the peace on the 27-acre site, as well as ensuring the hospital’s maze of rooms and buildings are secure after hours.

Dave is a reassuring sight for staff, especially in A&E, where he is often called to calm aggressive or difficult patients.

“You have to be firm but calm, even when people are being abusive,” says the 57-year-old father of one, who lives up to his name.

“Someone might have drunk too much, be upset about the waiting time or have mental health problems and decide to take it out on staff.

“You do become an expert at reading body language, so you can often predict what people are going to do. I’ve found the more verbal they are the less likely it is to get physical.”

The softly, softly approach doesn’t always work, however.

Dave has been punched kicked, pinned to the wall and wrestled to the ground over the years.

He says the community spirit of the hospital is something he still enjoys after 30 years, despite the confrontations.

Dave said: “I live opposite the hospital, so I bump into a lot of people I know. I’ve spent most of my working life here, so I am attached to it. We all have our moments, but I wouldn’t have stayed if I didn’t like it.”

The size of the hospital, which includes more than 30 buildings, means the team can’t be everywhere. They keep an eye on things with the help of a bank of TV monitors hooked up to more than 65 cameras.