This quick intervention was rendered possible thanks to a system called SECURALERT which was both invented and fabricated in Quebec by a firm called, at the time, CLERCOM INC. and that now goes by the name NORDICOM INC. In may 1992, during a meeting with Mr. Louis Leclerc of Clercom (now Nordicom), Mr. Georges Frigon, Security and Telecommunication Chief at Centre hospitalier de Trois-Rivières Pavillon Sainte-Marie (Regional Hospital Center of Three Rivers Sainte-Marie Pavilion), stated that a special emergency system was required to give a feeling of security to personnel at risk working in the psychiatric or emergency departments in hospital centers. This system would have to allow the immediate and precise location of persons in distress in various hospital departments.
The conventional systems used at the time were able to call for help with the use of a miniature button but could not determine the exact location of the call. In fact, a central receptor picked up calls in distress and indicated, with the help of a display board, that an individual was in danger in a range which could cover up to 14,000 square feet (1 200 square meters). A search then had to be done in order to locate the person in one of the many locals within that perimeter. This type of operation was unacceptable because in such a situation, each second is crucial and the intervention must be immediate.
The system’s conception
Intensive research done by specialized firms and from patent offices of both Canada and the United-States showed that only one infrared frequency system was available. This technology is efficient for long range control of cable selectors, of doors, etc…but cannot be applied to an emergency call system. In fact, because infrared waves are particular in themselves, the transmitter must “point” to the detector therefore rendering it inaccurate to fill out its first function that is to set off an alarm in all kinds of situations.
Following a favorable market research done in Quebec and in Canada, the conception and fabrication mandate of the system SECURALERT was given to Mr. Luc Harbour, Technical Director of the firm Clercom (now Nordicom). During its initial conception, a pilot system was installed in the psychiatric department of Centre hospitalier de Trois-Rivières Pavillon Sainte-Marie (Regional Hospital Center of Three Rivers Sainte-Marie Pavilion) for the duration of ten months. The system included ten receptors-detectors installed in as many locals and rooms of the department and six miniature emergency call buttons were distributed to the personnel. The receptors-detectors were linked to a local automatic pocket paging system indicating the whereabouts of calls on the numeric display screen of the pocket pager of the intervening personnel. During the trial period, a few slight modifications were brought to the system rendering it even more reliable and secure. Furthermore, a special circuit was incorporated to prevent all false alarms.
Centre hospitalier régional de Trois-Rivières, Pavillon Ste-Marie
(Regional Hospital Center of Three Rivers, St-Marie Pavilion)
The pilot system proved to be most efficient and reliable and a permanent system has since been installed in the psychiatric department of Centre hospitalier de Trois-Rivières Pavillon Sainte-Marie (Regional Hospital Center of Three Rivers Sainte-Marie Pavilion) after being highly recommended by the chief nurse of this department, Ms. Diane Larouche. The system is now installed in all the locals of the two-story psychiatric department. Only one security guard is now required for the surveillance of the two floors helped only by a few members of the personnel equipped with pocket pagers.
A SECURALERT receptor is installed in each one of the locals including patients’ rooms, isolation chambers, bathrooms, showers, toilets, corridors, offices, etc…totaling in all forty-six receptors. These receptors are linked to a local automatic pocket paging system with a range that includes Centre hospitalier de Trois-Rivières Pavillon Sainte-Marie (Regional Hospital Center of Three Rivers Sainte-Marie Pavilion) and its surroundings. An emergency call button is distributed to personnel in high-risk areas of the department. During an emergency call, set-off by a simple pressure of the button, the message is instantaneous and automatically sent to intervening personnel equipped with a numeric pocket pager and the number of the local appears on the screen. The personnel at risk working in the psychiatric department of Centre hospitalier de Trois-Rivières Pavillon Sainte-Marie (Regional Hospital Center of Three Rivers Sainte-Marie Pavilion) now feel much safer and is able to work worry-free twenty-four hours a day.
The radiology department of Hôpital Sacré-Cœur à Montréal (Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal) had a conventional system to protect the personnel of its scanner department where danger of aggressions came about at night. In fact, two employees worked alone at night and were an easy prey, the department being situated in a relatively isolated area of the hospital center. The system was linked to an alarm board under constant surveillance, which indicated that an alarm was set-off in the scanner department including eight distinct locals. As well as not indicating the exact area where the incident was taking place, the setting-off of many other false alarms brought about a lack of confidence from the security personnel in this system to such a point that the system was rendered ready for the scrap heap.
Following a request by Mr. Marcel Brabant, Service Chief, Exploitation and Maintenance of Buildings, a SECURALERT system was tried out for a period of six months. A few minor modifications were done on the receptors to counteract the harmonic sound emissions coming from the scanner instrument and causing false alarms. The system, which consisted of eight receptors and two miniature transmitters, is linked to an alarm board where the security personnel can be called to intervene quickly.
During the system’s installation, the scanner department personnel expressed its preference for a bracelet-transmitter. An ergonomic specialist was then consulted. After a thorough study, it was shown that in order to set-off an alarm with the help of a bracelet-transmitter worn on one wrist, the use of two hands was required. If the transmitter is worn on clothing, whether on a belt or in a pocket, like the one offered by the SECURALERT system, the alarm could be set-off with either the right or left hand.
Hôpital Sacré-Cœur à Montréal (Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal) plans to install a SECURALERT system in the emergency department’s new locals now being renovated.
The SECURALERT system can also be interconnected to communication systems that are already in function:
At Centre hospitalier Hôtel-Dieu à Roberval (Hôtel-Dieu Hospital Center in Roberval), the system is interconnected to the guard call system of its psychiatric department. The alert buttons are distributed to the personnel and during an alarm, a special code is transmitted to the guard’s post on the guard call system, which is installed in each room under surveillance.
Centre hospitalier Cité de la santé de Laval (Health City Hospital Center of Laval) has recently inaugurated its new psychiatric department and a SECURALERT system was installed in fifty locals. The SECURALERT was interconnected to the remote control system Multitone already in function at the hospital. The Multitone coder was programmed to give absolute priority to all calls coming from the SECURALERT system of the psychiatric department.
Cité de la Santé de Laval (Health City of Laval)
Hospital centers with a psychiatric vocation
A SECURALERT system containing approximately sixty receptors installed in as much locals is also installed at the Centre psychiatric Pierre Janet à Hull (Pierre Janet Psychiatric Center in Hull). The emergency calls are sent simultaneously to a display board and to an automatic pocket pager with alphanumeric display receptors indicating the whereabouts of the call. Twenty-five call buttons were distributed to the institution’s personnel. A printer is also in operation, registering the date, the time and the whereabouts of the calls as well as the pocket pager called.
Centre hospitalier Mgr Ross de Gaspé (Mgr Ross Hospital Center of Gaspe), also has a SECURALERT system, installed in twenty different locals including the out clinic. The system was part of a project related to room calls. It is linked to three display boards under constant surveillance. Some fifteen miniature call buttons were distributed to the institution’s personnel. “The SECURALERT system is very reliable and has greatly contributed to giving a sense of security to the personnel,” declared Mr. Henri Chrétien, Technical Director of the hospital center
The CLSC’s psychiatric out clinics, drug and alcohol control treatments as well as rehabilitation centers can profit from the SECURALERT system. Three CLSCs and Centre Dorémy (Dorémy Center) have already equipped themselves with this system. It is a very flexible system, which is adapted to all kinds of needs.
Clercom’s (now Nordicom’s) SECURALERT and automatic pocket paging systems have been conceived to answer all kinds of applications thanks to their modular conception.
This kind of operation permits the implantation of a basic system that can serve, for example, a psychiatric department during its initial installation. Other departments such as the emergency and radiology departments, consultation offices, etc…can be linked to the basic system with the help of supplementary modules linked to the control center already in place, therefore avoiding extra costs. Control systems related to absconders, doors, etc… could also be linked to CLERCOM’s (now NORDICOM’S) automatic modular pocket paging system.
The SECULARERT system can be linked to a conventional alarm board and or to an automatic pocket paging system. A printer, indicating the date, the time, and the whereabouts of the call as well as the numbers of the pocket pager called, can also be interconnected to the system.
A Quebec product
The SECURALERT system is unique. It was conceived and fabricated in Quebec. The complete system, including the automatic pocket paging system, alarm boards, etc…is a Quebec conception.