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IFTER EQU - Effective Security System Management in Hospitals


Every hospital needs a fire alarm system. Hospital objects are usually spread over an immense area and consist of several buildings so even the quickest detection of danger does not always result in an efficient combating of the danger. Out of concern for people and property present at an object, we should minimise the time of reaction. It can only be achieved with computer visualisation, which enables quick and unmistakable location of the danger.

Hospital objects are always constructed as a complex of buildings in order to make optimum use of personnel and expensive medical devices. Such concepts entail the necessity of a building with many interconnected buildings, distinguished by complex architecture. Fire alarm systems, are a necessity in these objects, it is placed (with its control panel) at a local monitoring centre (LMC). However, the size and the complexity of such objects impede the speed of locating danger. Additional dangers for the LMC workers is the uncertian detection description and vastly-changing arrangement of rooms. It is a result of the changing needs of a hospital. Sometimes, control panels show detection descriptions that relate to rooms that no longer exist. Moreover, the complex architecture of such buildings also makes it impossible for the monitoring centre worker to remember architectural plans of the object, especially as the hospital has limited-access places. Another problem is the necessity of performing prolonged training, concerning the rooms layout and evacuation routes, and thus results in problems when new employees join the team.

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Very often in a situation of a fire emergency, the LMC workers have to cooperate with the medical staff in order to execute a potential evacuation and to coordinate the undertaken operations. It is important to remember that the monitoring centre and medical workers do not have any technical training. Thus, the orders given by one side may not be necessarily understood properly by the other. We have come to the conclusion that it is very important to create a form of communication that would be universal and clear for both sides - preferably not requiring any technical knowledge - only a graphic pattern changing its look, depending on the situation.

In regards to presenting the events received from a fire alarm system and applying it to computer visualisation. The best way to present the state of the fire alarm system is to place the visualisation in the local monitoring centre and at the nurses desk in particular wards. Computer visualisation is presented on a monitor screen with the plans of the object with icons representing the actual states of detection-manual call points, modules, heat detectors, smoke detectors and sirens. The shape and colour of these icons uniquely inform us about the function of the device they present. The change of the icon's look happens automatically, no matter what a user is doing. Besides presenting icons on the building's plan, the visualisation also supports users in the case of an emergency and helps them manage the object.

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The focal point of counteracting fire dangers is the local monitoring centre. It is the place where the main workstation is located - with the greatest capabilities concerning visualisation and support of a user. The visualisation from the particular wards will be only informational and supportive in the case of a potential evacuation. The whole system works smoothly thanks to the server where the database software is installed and which manages the data transfer between the fire alarm control panels and workstations containing visualisation. In order to increase the present capabilities, the workstation can be equipped with two or more screens. The first one presents the arrangement of buildings and tiers layouts with detectors on them. The second one presents alarm and event logs, giving information about the actual state of the system. If an object is supervised by a CCTV system, then a third monitor can also be used and display the camera video. The camera view can be changed by clicking a different camera icon from the building's layout. It can also happen automatically when a sensor detects danger or when someone presses a manual fire alarm call point. The use of both fire alarm systems and closed-circuit television systems allows for quick verification of the fire alarm, especially when a camera video from the threatened area is displayed automatically with the alarm. If smoke is seen on the screen the security personnel will immediately carry out fire-fighting actions. A very important element of the visualisation is the code of practice feature. The procedures are displayed together with the alarm. Procedures also contain contact details of the person responsible for a particular part of an object. If an object has a room with hazardous or flammable substances the procedures should instruct the security personnel how to carry out the proper fire-fighting action. All the alarms that should be commented on after verifying false alarms or after the fire-fighting action is finished. That way, a user will gain some extra information essential for an analysis of the fire safety of a given object. The main advantage of the visualisation is placing detectors' icons and call points icons on the architectural plans. Though very often there is no possibility to place all the detectors on a single plan (monitor). In such cases, the visualisation is comprised of several smaller plans enlarging areas for easier identification of danger. It simplifies the danger localisation and enables the person that verifies the danger to be led by someone from the local monitoring centre.

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The visualisation prepared for touch panels located at the nurses desk in every ward is organised in a different way. A monitoring screen is designed for visualisation presenting only the area of that given ward. It is a nice-looking, intuitive and understandable for the medical staff. Additionally, in a situation of a fire emergency, the safest evacuation routes are shown. If the fire happens in a section that does not threaten a given ward the information appears with the notification about fire emergency that does not require evacuation. The visualisation, is organised in such a way,it is understandable for the medical staff and allows them to carry out an efficient evacuation, not causing unnecessary confusion and panic.

Using an elaborate fire alarm visualisation in hospital objects makes for high efficiency operations of the LMC worker and better cooperation of the medical staff. It helps minimize property losses and helps reduce inconviences to patients.