One way that Carle Health is enhancing security is by installing a weapons detection system at the Emergency Department (ED) entrance of Carle Foundation Hospital (CFH). The goal is to protect patients, visitors and team members so patients can focus on receiving care, team members can focus on providing care and visitors can concentrate on supporting their loves ones. The system is similar to security systems at the entrances and exits of some major retail stores and large stadiums.
“As a best practice, hospitals nationwide have installed weapons detection systems in their emergency department where weapons usually enter a hospital,” Keith McGlen, CPP, CHPA, Carle Health vice president of Security and Emergency Management, said. “We’re implementing a system at the Carle Foundation Hospital Emergency Department as a critical step in our comprehensive plan to enhance security in all of our facilities.”
Carle Health is installing its first weapons detection system at the ED entrance of CFH because it’s a Level I trauma center, treating a volume of patients with more critical experiences and needs, Joe Johnston, BA, CAI, director of Security at CFH, said.
Installation begins on Feb. 9 and the system will go live on Feb. 13. Signage at the ED entrance will alert people that the weapons detection system is in use.
“The Security team at Carle Foundation Hospital is trained on how to use the system and protocols to follow if it detects a weapon,” Johnston said. “Our goal is to keep people safe, while ensuring that the patient, team member and visitor experience remains smooth.”
Because weapons are not allowed on hospital property, security will manage the system 24/7. Patients, visitors and team members will pass through two sensors when entering the Emergency Department. The sensors will detect shapes, including those of guns, knives and other weapons. Unless the system detects a suspected weapon, people will come into the hospital without delay in a free-flowing manner. When the system detects a possible weapon, Carle Security will escort the person with the suspected weapon to an adjacent secondary screening area. Carle Security will use training and safety protocols to ensure the safety of others until it’s determined that no weapon is present. Security team members will use a hand-held detector to confirm whether the person has a weapon. If so, they must return it to their vehicle. For patients entering the hospital at the ambulance entrance or in the custody of police, Security has protocols in place to ensure that weapons are not being brought into the hospital.
While the new detection system offers an added layer of surveillance at CFH, there is a wider system security strategy also taking shape to bring safety support in other facilities based on community need.
“We will evaluate the results of the deployment to determine a path forward for the organization,” McGlen said. “We’re about to embark on a comprehensive security risk and vulnerability assessment of all of our hospitals.”
“This (weapons detection system) is a step in the development of a comprehensive strategy to keep everyone safe,” McGlen said. “Over the next 12 months, we will be assessing all Carle facilities and, based on the findings of these assessments, we’ll create action plans to address opportunities for improvements in security.”
At Carle Health, the trust community members place in their care team is vital to delivering high-quality healthcare. We continue to work to build the safest experience possible for team members and those we serve.