Massachusetts General Hospital Extends Parking Security with Emergency Phones

Massachusetts General Hospital, located in Boston, operates a total of four parking garages from within its main campus to accommodate the traffic that comes standard with an approximate annual influx of over a million ambulatory and emergency visitors each year. When officials within the Hospital’s Police and Security Department decided it was time to extend the security operation’s reach over the parking facilities, they chose to install Talkaphone’s versatile Emergency Phone units and integrated them with closed circuit surveillance equipment to gain full audio and visual capability from within their security command center.

The hospital itself is the largest in New England. Managing its campuses and the four parking facilities requires a security force of approximately 150 licensed officers patrolling the parking garages 24/7 by a combination of motor vehicle, foot, and bike patrols. In addition to the patrolling officers, the Police and Security Department also has a division consisting of a dozen personnel members that are responsible for all of the technology the department uses, including Talkaphone systems.

Robert Leahy, Systems and Technology Manager within the Massachusetts General Hospital Police and Security Department stated, “We began installing Talk-A-Pone products back in 1999. We installed a number of them in the front garages here at the hospital, and then we expanded to the garage that we currently occupy in the Charlestown Navy Yard, and then most recently, we did our final installation here at another garage we built on the main campus.”

We have it set up in such a way that if a Talkaphone is activated, the camera will zoom in on a call box itself, and we’ll be able to manipulate the camera to see what’s going on. Once activated, we maintain constant communication with the person requesting assistance and we’re able to respond and to give that assurance that somebody is present, somebody is there, since the communication goes both ways.

Robert Leahy
Systems and Technology Manager
Massachusetts General Hospital

Overall, approximately 55 Talkaphone Emergency Phone Systems have been installed throughout the four facilities. One is a 9.5 ft tall Emergency Tower located at the entrance of one of the garages, and the others are wall-mounted units mounted throughout the decks of the garages. The systems are designed to immediately connect distress users, with the touch of a button, to the hospital’s security force while automatically transmitting their location to the dispatcher. When activated, a constantly lit blue light/strobe mounted on top of the units immediately starts flashing, alerting officials and others to the area in which assistance is need.

According to Leahy, the systems were necessary to extend the department’s communication between the parking facility and its security operation. “Not everyone carries cell phones, and there’s not always a phone present,” said Leahy, but with the Talkaphones integrated with the CCTV closed-circuit television camera system, they are able to communicate, to observe, and to see what’s going on in the event that someone needs assistance.

To Leahy, the emergency phones provide critical support to the security forces. “They allow us to respond if [an officer] doesn’t happen to be in the garage at a particular time…We have it set up in such a way that, if a Talkaphone is activated, the camera will zoom in on the call box itself, and we’ll be able to manipulate the camera to see what’s going on. Once activated, we maintain constant communication with the person requesting the assistance, whatever that may be, and we’re able to respond and to give that assurance that somebody is present, somebody is there since the communication goes both ways.”

Fortunately, there have not been any serious incidents where the Emergency Phones were activated. They are primarily used by people who forget where they’re parked. “There’s a lot more on their minds when they come to a hospital setting than parking on this particular level in this particular garage. The boxes are labeled press for assistance and we’re able to give them the assistance they need,” said Leahy.

For the future, the hospital is looking to expand its Emergency Communication capabilities into its numerous offsite parking lots where issues of obtaining power and communication lines prevented installations in the past. According to Leahy, the Police and Security Department is considering Talkaphone’s Solar-Powered Emergency Towers and Cellular Interface to overcome those obstacles in the future.