Seattle Children’s Hospital Bridges Its Communication Gap

This campus didn’t need to replace its duress system. It just needed to better utilize and integrate the technologies that were already there.

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Panic alarms are designed to deliver emergency alerts quickly to campus security personnel so that they can promptly respond to issues.

Recently, however, security technology stakeholders at Seattle Children’s Hospital realized their duress buttons lacked redundancy. Additionally, it could take officer pagers as long as three minutes to receive messages, which would delay incident response.

No redundancy and a three-minute delay in emergency message delivery were not acceptable, so Children’s Hospital tasked Aronson Security Group (ASG) with identifying a solution.

It was determined that Children’s existing IP intercom system made by Vingtor-Stentofon and existing IP Motorola radio system had the capabilities to bridge the gap in communications and work seamlessly together through an interface with Lenel.

Integrator Leverages Previously-Installed Technology

In 2012, Children’s Hospital invested in Vingtor-Stentofon’s critical communication solutions. They installed the manufacturer’s IP-based Turbine intercom stations in their parking areas, which enabled communication with high definition quality audio. These stations amplify the sound and provide noise reduction and echo cancelling technology.

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With this security technology already in place, a team was assembled to validate the system upgrades operated properly utilizing Children’s existing systems. The group consisted of Security Director Jim Sawyer, Physical Security Program Manager Dylan Hayes, Children’s IT department and the radio communications officer. ASG was designated as integrator/consultant that would establish the system interoperability, investigating and tying all the technology together. Vendor participation was also critical in the project.

“We had the full cooperation of Vingtor-Stentofon,” says Larry Minaker, ASG client manager for Children’s. “We assigned this to our Advanced Integration Services (AIS) team who worked with their support center out of Kansas City.”

Scott Hanson, one of the AIS managers, took the lead. He was encouraged that Vingtor-Stentofon had certified an integration through Lenel’s Open Access Alliance Program (OAAP), which allows a manufacturer to develop a software interface for Lenel’s OnGuard integrated platform that was already installed. Every interface is factory-certified to support OnGuard functionality.

The Children’s Hospital team assembled the radio hardware components for testing in ASG’s lab in Renton, Washington. The key elements included Lenel certified integrations with Vingtor-Stentofon, including the master station, AlphaCom, their IP Audio Remoter I/O unit (IP-ARIO) and the Motorola Mototrbo Radio. ASG provided fully functional Lenel and Stentofon systems and integrated all the radio, intercom and access control equipment together.

Upgrades Resolve Delays, Deliver More Functionality

ASG successfully worked with the system manufacturers to configure and deploy a functional end-to-end “proof of operation” in the lab. The configurable alert notifications reached the radio in seconds instead of minutes. Additional benefits included two-way voice connection between officers in the field utilizing handheld radios and officers stationed at the intercom master station. Another benefit is the capability to receive immediate notifications for any other critical input, such as refrigerator alarms or doors forced open.

“Many hospitals are not able to staff a security operations center 24 hours a day, seven days a week”, says Minaker. “Children’s identified an opportunity, prioritized the need for resolution and then assembled a team to identify how to resolve it. One important component was that Children’s invested in evaluating the core technologies they already owned in order to protect their existing investment and identify a more effective way the technology could operate together. Finally, [we were] able to work with manufacturers to determine the best method to integrate equipment and deploy it in ASG’s lab infrastructure. At the end of the day, not only was a solution tested and validated that maximized Children’s existing investments, it also added operational functionality and communication redundancy.”

These important benefits will bridge the gap between time-sensitive communications and staff response. The solution has expanded the capability to monitor and respond to critical infrastructure alarms, further enhancing the culture of safety at Children’s Hospital.