THE MAGAZINE

Case Study

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

The Radius EMD system also promised near-instant communication. Other dur­ess systems that Smith had investigated “had a two-minute lag until security received the message…. A nurse left to deal with a combative patient for two minutes—blaming the duress button is not going to fly. It’s still going to be seen as security’s fault.”

Inovonics’ Banghart explains the philosophy behind the Radius EMD system. “Panic buttons need to be mobile. They also must be able to locate where the user is in the facility with some level of accuracy. The system should reside on an appropriate network that is security hardened and designed around security, mission-critical, and life-safety applications. They should cover a large number of users in a scalable fashion—one department, or several, or an entire building or campus.”

Radius EMD’s wireless repeaters “create a mesh network wherever you want,” says Banghart. “The repeaters require local power, but have batteries that last up to 24 hours if there is an outage. A network coordinator connects the server at the front end, so it manages the mesh network, capturing button activation signals.” The signals are fed by the network coordinator to a server, “where the brains of the system reside. This is not a system where you watch a screen and monitor what’s going on; it’s about mobile buttons being activated, the network picking this up, the signal being located, and then sending that alert message directly to a mobile responder in a variety of formats—over two-way radio to a security responder, or over phone lines, cell phones, pag­ers, e-mail, or public address systems. Or the signals could go to a dispatch center, as it does at Saint Joseph.”

Smith did not have enough funds to cover the entire hospital at one time, so he selected the top three problem areas. The behavioral health unit “had a high level of combative patient incidents, and the director of the ICU was concerned about security because of some of the family dynamics in the waiting area.” The ER, with its difficult patients and possibilities of spillover and domestic violence, was also selected. “The only other department I would have liked to include was labor and delivery because we get a lot of—frankly—Jerry Springer-type stuff that goes on,” he states.

The scalable system allows an unlimited number of duress buttons, but Smith decided to limit the number to 45. “On-duty personnel get them when they start their shift; they wear them throughout their shifts, and then they turn them over to their relief,” he says. Smith selected a two-button model that signals after both buttons are pressed for one second. Staff from the three units were given samples of the types of buttons available before Smith made the purchase. The staff decided that a belt-clip version was easiest to use.
 

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