7 Steps to Effectively Deploying Panic Alarms: Part 2

When implemented properly, enterprise mobile duress systems provide an additional layer of safety to staff as well as valuable information to first responders. Here’s how to select an integrator, create a plan for implementation, monitor your system for upgrades and more.

Note: This is part 2 of our series on mobile duress systems. To read part 1, click here.

3. Select an Integration Partner
Once the campus has selected the type of system to fit its needs, the next major decision lies in selecting an integration partner. Choosing an integrator is just as important as selecting the right EMD system. Integrators should be well versed in the different technologies and have familiarity with life safety requirements and best practices for installing such systems in the campus’s particular environment.

Bryan Jones, director of systems integration for HSS, agrees. “An integrator that has experience with several types of EMD systems is ideal. Integrating location-based solutions requires more expertise, and an integrator who has experience can provide more value throughout the entire design and installation process.”

An integrator should be interested in collaborating with security administrators to select the right system based on the campus’ needs and be able to help define requirements.

A good integration partner should have a vested interest in the long term support of the system as well. Having professional, trained staff that are ready to address any issues with the EMD system is critical to the campus. Staff turnover, building configuration changes and system expansion are commonplace in campus environments, so the integration partner needs to be available and ready to help address these issues, even years down the road.

4. Create an Implementation Plan
Before installation begins, it is important for the integrator and the security administrator to develop an implementation plan. This will help the campus plan for the installation so as to keep disruption to the campus and staff to a minimum.  It will also allow the integrator to finalize hardware requirements, provide timetables for the installation and provide a seamless installation to the campus.

Related Article: 7 Steps to Effectively Deploying Panic Alarms: Part 1

“Skipping this step can result in a less cost effective project in the long run,” says Jones. “Taking the time to finalize all the details before the installation begins will help mitigate any issues that could hinder a successful and timely installation.”

The first step in creating an implementation plan should be to conduct a site survey. Surveying the installation site will help determine the total amount of hardware required, where hardware needs to be mounted, if new electrical drops are needed, and if there are any existing structural issues that need to be considered during the installation. Surveying the site prior to the installation will eliminate any potential coverage gaps and eliminate costly delays during the installation process. The survey also provides a template for expansion should campus coverage be expanded over time or in phases.

The next step would be to define the location areas that the head end will recognize when a duress call is made from a panic duress transmitter. For some systems, it may be as simple as assigning a WiFi access point or IR beacon a room name. For other systems, particularly 900MHz systems that cover beyond established room definitions such as parking lots or common areas, establishing points of interest, often referred to as “finger-printing,” to define those areas is part of this definition process.

Finally, preliminary testing should be conducted between the enterprise mobile duress system and any of the other existing communication or security systems that are already on site. Some communication, security and access systems have lengthy integration protocols to follow, and it will save time during the installation if the integrations have been researched and tested before the installation begins.

5. Commission the System
Next, the duress transmitters must be registered into the system. Depending on the system configuration, the transmitters may need to be registered and assigned to specific people and/or department. Depending on the granularity offered by the system, assigning transmitters to people may offer additional information to help responders during an emergency event. While EMD systems can stand on their own, they are often added after emergency communication protocols or security procedures have been in place. Confirming integration and proper operation is prudent.

Naturally, the final step is a complete system test. Commissioning should also include validating coverage area perimeters and other difficult or high-risk building and campus locations. Walking the campus and activating the duress transmitter, seeing the alarm message delivered to the responders and the relief of the individual when help arrives is always a comforting and important aspect of the deployment.

6. Train Your Staff
Staff training is something that can be led by the integration partner or the security administrator, depending on the campus. It is important to train staff not only on how to use the duress transmitter and in what instances, but it is also important to train on what happens after the button is pressed. Training should also be conducted with the onsite responders to make sure they know what the alert message will contain, what format it will be and if there are any escalation protocols built into the alerting system.

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 Conference promo