Best practices for panic buttons & 911

Dec 16, 2013 | News

The topic of panic buttons has been very hot in the press lately, and we’ve been receiving a lot of requests to install them. But what is their specific function – and what is the proper implementation of a panic button to call 911?

CSI has been installing panic alarms as a part of our Integrated Security Solutions to our K-12 Education and Government Customers.  Panic buttons can and have been attached to intrusion panels, access control panels, cameras and more to provide notification that an emergency is occurring in a specific area/room. Panic buttons have recently become one of the recommendations among security consultants for keeping facilities safe.

But what is the proper way to implement them?  To make sure we and our clients are doing the right thing we reached out to the director of our local 911 center to see what the standard policy is regarding panic buttons and 911 calls. Here’s what he had to say: “A 911 center will not respond to a non-human 911 call either from a digital communicator or some other messaging machine. A 911 operator will not send a response to a non-verifiable call.”  It is also believed that there is legislation that prohibits non-verifiable 911 calls.

Based on this information our recommendation is to have the panic buttons report to a 24 hour on-site security staff location or a local monitoring facility. The security staff or monitoring company would then in turn call the 911 center.  We were assured that this is indeed is the best way to handle panic button implementation.

Our next line of questioning was in regards to the receipt of a 911 text message.  We found out that no 911 Center in the Lehigh Valley can accept Text to 9-1-1 at this time. 911 centers are currently considering or installing software to facilitate Text to 9-1-1 calls, however only the VZW offers this service at this time.

In summary, when thinking about panic buttons it is recommended that our clients handle panic alarms the same way they do security alarms: Through a monitoring service that can verify alarms and contact the appropriate 9-1-1 Center with specific information about the location and type of alarm. This is the way most Banks handle the alarms as well, so there is precedent set. There are so many facets to a complete Integrated Security Solution, which is why CSI never stops training and searching for the best answer to help keep our clients secure.


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