Radio Call Box System Bolsters Safety at Children’s Hospital

There are thousands of doctors, nurses, aids, technicians, and volunteers who provide daily care for hundreds of pediatric patients at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital of Knoxville. Most park in the new employee parking garage – at all hours of the day and night. Regardless of when they come and go, Chief of Security, Steve Bohanan wanted them to not only be safe, but to know they were only moments from help should a need arise. A Ritron wireless call box intercom system provides this peace of mind along with instant notification of security personnel.

Fast Response Time Is Key

Whether an employee presses the call box button to summon help because they have observed an unsavory character lurking nearby or because they left their lights on and now have a dead battery – response time is key. To speed response time, the moment that someone presses the “push-to-talk” button, several things happen simultaneously. All radio equipped security officers receive the distress call along with the location of the call box, and a blue strobe light begins to flash – serving as a deterrent to nefarious people nearby.

Because all radio-equipped security personnel receive the same message, the closest officer can then respond back directly to the caller, along with their ETA. This is in contrast with other systems which alerts a “dispatch” officer who then determines which security officer is closest, then radios to the officer to respond. With immediate and direct notification to all officers, response time is reduced considerably.

In addition to faster response times, this “system-wide alert” system also allows all security officers to proceed with their normal activities, yet still be available for emergencies. The call boxes are linked to a conventional UHF narrowband repeater which is located atop the hospital, and dedicated solely to the call boxes. This provides clear messaging to all radio-equipped security officers no matter where they are located throughout the campus. Security personnel are actively engaged in their normal activities – yet still responsive when a call box call comes in. This effective use of manpower without compromising safety helps keep costs down – e.g. no additional people or services are required to man a dispatch desk.

Like Déjà Vu All Over Again

When Children’s Hospital of Knoxville personnel decided that they wanted a security system for the then under construction employee parking garage they had plenty of local installations to look at. The facility is adjacent to Fort Sanders Regional Hospital and within a mile of the University of Tennessee Hospital – so they could literally walk to see how others were addressing the same situation.

One of these facilities has a telephone-based emergency call system which Bohanan did not like for several reasons. From an operational standpoint, the telephone wires can be cut – if that happens, then the system is useless. From an ongoing maintenance standpoint, this type of system would be owned by the telephone/IT department and then rented out to the individual departments where the phones (or security phone systems) are located. With a total of 20 call boxes, even moderate charges per line can add up quickly, plus the project is then out of Security Services control, which is problematic in and of itself.

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety HQ