Emergency access control and the first responder

Emergency access control and the first responder

     The most widely accepted and utilized emergency access control system in the United States today, which is always specified by the fire agency of jurisdiction, is a mastered key system. This mastered key system is not typically shared with the law enforcement community, and if it is shared they will allow limited use via gates only, not buildings. This system also creates problems with mutual aid operations, since it is keyed for only the city or county of record. Thus, you can have adjacent cities with common boundaries not being able to support each other during significant events requiring mutual aid response.

     Seeking a universal overlay emergency access control system that will provide you with immediate, stealthy, tactical and mutual aid compatible entry control is absolute. An effective emergency access control response system should incorporate features such as:

  • Allows responders, agencies, etc. equal access to barriers
  • Allows any emergency responder access control
  • Facilitates a fast response time
  • Supports "officer safety" functionality and stealth operation
  • Provides for control of electromechanical systems for both gate and door access control
  • Is easily carried and used.

     Some features of the most widely used access control systems in the United States are highlighted in TABLE-1. The various technologies are discussed in a "strengths" to "weaknesses" approach.

     To summarize, the law enforcement community is acutely aware that in order to save lives and minimize harm, there is a significant need to be able to access gates and buildings quickly and safely. Providing a comprehensive overlay emergency access control system will give law enforcement first responders a tactical advantage in an active shooter scenario. It is extremely important that your agency keep the lines of communication open with your local fire agency in order to help them become aware of the critically different needs a law enforcement first responder has compared to that of a fire/EMS responder.

Emergency response resources:

TABLE-1: Product class strengths and weaknesses
Product Class Strengths Weaknesses
Keypads • Proven technology
• Simple to use
• Allows for quiet entry
• Tracking code changes throughout jurisdictions
• May have to exit unit to use
Locks • Simple to use
• Allows for quiet entry
• Each unit must have a key
• Typically no audit trail of use
• Must exit unit to use
Cards • Low Cost
• Allows for quiet entry
• Each unit must have card
• Requires access card reader
• Must stop to insert card
Light • No need to exit vehicle
• Opens gate on approach
•Units must have strobe emitter
• Must have vehicle to operate
Sound • Widely used
• Simple operation
• Low cost
• Requires a vehicle with siren
• Siren must be sounded
• No covert access to property
Transmitter • Allows for rapid entry
• Can ID individual units
• Allows for quiet entry
• Each unit must have a device
• Batteries must be maintained
Puck system • Simple operation
• Transmitter affixed to vehicle
• Allows for quiet entry
• Must have vehicle to operate
• Not proprietary
• No audit trial of use
RFID • Hands-free operation
• Individual user/s tracking
• Limited range of operation
• Not mutual aid compatible
• All vehicles must have ID tag

     Pete Sutsos worked in law enforcement for 15 years and retired as a deputy sheriff in 1990 as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty. The injury inspired him to found Click2Enter, Inc. and develop emergency access control systems and technology.

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