Hospital security moves with the times

May 2006 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

We live in challenging times. Hospitals are traditionally a place of healing, a sanctuary, a secure place to recuperate and recover from illness. Unfortunately hospitals have also become prime targets for crime. This includes petty opportunistic criminals, staff who see no wrong in helping themselves, to experienced criminals who see hospitals as a soft target. The obvious targets - medicines and drug storage areas - can be reasonably easy to secure using well thought-out procedures with good access control and CCTV systems. Theft of surgical instruments and mundane cutlery and other kitchen items or loss through negligence can be reduced by using equipment such as the Ranger Mediscan to scan theatre waste and other garbage.

The harder problems are the armed robberies and hold ups that have started to appear regularly where hospitals are the target. How often do we read of cash in transit vehicles being attacked while loading up at hospitals. How many robberies must occur before hospitals make sensitive areas gun free?

Recent headlines such as 'Hospital closed by crime' reflect the pressure hospitals are under. The Crossroads Hospital, which until recently treated an average of 350 people daily, has closed its doors due to vandalism and violence. Rob Martell, the manager for the Nyanga health district said that the hospital's closure was due to crime 'spiralling out of control'. His area of responsibility includes Nyanga, Crossroads, Gugulethu and Philippi. "Innocent people are suffering because the hospital is closed," he said. Fifty windows of the hospital had been stolen, gangsters with guns had come in and terrorised the staff and patients, and a spate of burglaries, muggings and armed robberies at the hospital in broad daylight had prompted the closure of the hospital. Other hospitals have had armed robberies entering reception areas, holding up the hospital staff as well as any other people in the area.

Even animal healthcare is at risk. Laughing armed assailants have hit a number of veterinary surgeries in Cape Town recently, threatening and abusing staff, sticking guns in their mouths and to their heads, and stealing cash and equipment.

The shortage of trained manpower makes it difficult for hospitals to provide decent security to protect their assets and most importantly, the people who work there and who seek medical assistance. Modern technology can help. By selectively installing planned CCTV systems combined with access controls and good monitoring, these crimes can be reduced.

Video Domain has developed a range of remote monitoring systems with notification devices that will enable hospitals and other large complexes to install inexpensive solutions that can incorporate their existing equipment. This includes its Observer CCTV base station monitoring system. This provides video and two way voice communication throughout the hospital or complex with minimum of wiring. Operators can even remotely control the opening and locking of doors, car booms, staff entrances, etc.

The southern African distributor of Ranger Security Detectors and Video Domain products, which include the Marama - Observer control room equipment and the Neteye accessories is Emergency Reaction Services.

For more information contact Emergency Reaction Services, 011 234 6000, or visit


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