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Fresno VA Hospital Builds Auto-Dialer Panic Alarm System with DPMs and T/Mon SLIM

Roy Bacon
Roy Bacon
Engineering Technician
VA Hospital

The Fresno VA Hospital prides itself on providing high quality, prompt, and seamless care to veterans. To provide such excellent care, clinical as well as support services work together to ensure that each patient's visit is a "Ten Experience".

In addition to providing quality care to patients, the VA Hospital strives to provide a secure environment for its patients and employees. Roy Bacon, one of the biomedical engineering technicians responsible for ensuring that all medical equipment is sound, is also responsible for working with the security alarm systems which provide that security.

To prevent unauthorized access to restricted areas, and to reduce the possibility of physical threats to their patients and staff, the VA Hospital monitors entrances, exits, windows, and panic circuits throughout the campus. Bacon maintains DPS Telecom DPMs (Discrete Point Modules), which serve as an interface between the physical alarm points and the emergency paging system. When doors, windows, or panic buttons are "tripped" or activated, the DPM automatically places a call for outside emergency assistance, such as the local law enforcement, via an in-house PBX and paging server.

In an effort to improve system performance and reduce response time, Bacon searched for a way to consolidate all of the system's alarm points. In addition he wanted authorized users to be able to view the status of any alarm point from any PC on the hospital's computer network.

"We decided to put the T/Mon SLIM into place to consolidate all those alarms to make the whole system faster..."
T/Mon SLIM combined with a Custom Panic Alarm System provides the right solution...

With patients that require 24/7 monitoring, the hospital's limited staff depends on fast, accurate alarms. "We have a number of patients and staff within the facility, who have directly benefited from our security alarm system," said Bacon. He relies on their system of DPMs, now reporting to the T/Mon SLIM, to alert the proper response team of critical situations. In this unique application, Bacon and DPS engineers have established an auto-dialing panic alarm system to monitor the VA Hospital.

DPMs detect events translated from electrical contact closure connected to doors, windows, and panic buttons by way of wire-wrap blocks. Each DPM pinpoints trouble spots, automatically dials out for help when the alarm is triggered, and emergency teams are able to respond 24 hours a day.

The DPM's programmable features like back-up pager numbers and written alarm point descriptions offer instant, reliable alarm monitoring when it matters most. "Panic buttons tied to a contact closure are hidden mostly under a desk or some place isolated and out of view," said Bacon. "When that button is pressed, the alarm sets off and a point is triggered in the DPM which then dials the number."

During his deployment, Bacon has increasingly added more DPMs to meet the demands for the increasing number of patients. His alarm system has become more complex, and he needed a way of maintaining the same high levels of efficiency. "We decided to put the T/Mon SLIM into place to consolidate all those alarms to make the whole system faster."

With the T/Mon SLIM, Bacon can database, monitor, and interpret alarms from one central unit. The SLIM can also auto-dial for help when an alarm is triggered from any DPM on-site. Using the internal Web browser, T/Mon SLIM makes it easy for Bacon to add new devices to their alarm system. "When I came on site about 5 years ago, they already had 3 or 4 DPMs, and now we've increased it to 10," said Bacon. "We'll probably keep going from there, because of the needs of our panic alarm system."

Hospital Staff Stays Protected by the T/Mon SLIM

VA Hospital's panic alarm system not only provides security to patients, it also offers extra support to staff members as well. "There have been a number of situations where the T/Mon SLIM actually alerted the law enforcement that there was a problem in the area," said Bacon. "They were able to get someone into that situation so no one would get hurt."

"That's one of our primary concerns - that our people are well protected..."

Reliable notifications make sure our staff has enough support to handle the situation, and minimize any possible harm to them if securing a patient. "That is one of our primary concerns - that our people are well protected," said Bacon. "The T/Mon SLIM has helped to improve that scenario."

Transition From POTS to Ethernet Will Increase Speed and Accessibility

Hoping for enhanced alarm data transfer and increased web accessibility, Bacon hopes to completely remove his monitoring gear from analog telephone lines and onto the hospital network. "In the next few years, we're probably going to go away from the telephone system interface," said Bacon. "A network setup is ideal, because it gives you the ultimate in terms of speed and reliability," said Bacon.

VA Hospital T/Mon SLIM Installation
The Fresno VA Hospital uses T/Mon SLIM to view alarms from any terminal.

Ethernet connectivity also means he and other technicians can find out status of all alarms from anywhere inside the hospital by web browsing to T/Mon SLIM. "Being able to see alarms from any terminal is great!" said Bacon. "You can see what an alarm component is doing, upload and find the history of it, and print out a history log."

On-Site DPS Support Delivers Increased Confidence

Bacon recently took advantage of DPS Telecom's onsite turn-up and installation assistance. DPS Engineering Technician Chris Hower worked with Bacon on-site to setup their new T/Mon SLIM with their existing DPMs. "He's a great guy to work with, he's very knowledgeable, and he loves DPS."

"That makes me feel good about the product, makes me feel good about the people who serve us, and makes me feel good about the possible relationship down the road..."

After a successful implementation, Bacon had high regard for DPS's commitment to their clients. "When I talk to people at DPS, they say it's a great place to work," said Bacon. "That makes me feel good about the product, makes me feel good about the people who serve us, and makes me feel good about the possible relationship down the road."

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