Subscriber Discussion

What Are Public Safety & First Responders Saying About Their Access Control Systems Experiences?

It would be interested to hear what our Public Safety & First Responders are saying with relation to situations and occurances they experience with the growing access control market.

Wouldn't it be good to know both the set backs as well as as the positive outcomes these agencies face?

We can learn a great deal from direct feedback of these agencies. It seems that many of the Emergency Safety Management articles that are written do not cover this critical area.

While visiting one of my parents at a brand new healthcare facility, another patient’s visiting family member was in need of paramedics. The paramedics were called and pulled up to the main entry door. The entry system is controlled by an access control system and access is granted by the facilities staff or access card. As I observed from a distance, I watched as the EMS team stands outside, waiting. As critical time passed, the EMS team did eventually gain access to treat the person in need, only after a lengthened and unnecessary delay. It could very well be that there is trend starting here, where a lack of proper planning or design results in emergency crews being restricted or locked out of a call.

With popular methods of emergency entry typically meeting approvals of fire safety, it is unlikely that other public safety agencies or private security providers are included in the selection process.When both public and private agencies have to rely on independent solutions there becomes a complicated issue where each response agency will be responsible for even more key codes, keys, access cards or transmitters making it costly and inefficient.

At the moment, the majority of businesses using access control are large scale businesses, industries with high level security needs or government facilities. Generally speaking these facilities have on site security or at least a facilities manager who has coordinated in advance with the local public safety agencies. If they have not reached out to the agency, the agency will usually reach out to the business to discuss emergency planning which would include access control. Most often, the business is more than willing to provide a master card/fob to both fire and police to use if needed.

As time goes on and the cost comes down similar to the security camera systems, there is a greater liklihood of small businesses adding this to their security measures and not considering the potential problems with emergency access. For the fire side, as long as egress is not prevented, there is not such a great need to enter if all occupants are accounted for. The security clearing by police due to general intruders is not much of a problem as if access is truly needed time is on our side or forced entry tools can be brought to the scene. The real problem involves an active incident/shooter situation where the initial seconds upon arrival really matter and patrol officers do not have the needed tools for serious forced entry Windows and wooded doors are easy to force open at the patrol level which is common to residential and small business structures but metal doors, metal frames and cement walls are quite a problem.