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School personal alarms

A case study from Cooper Security of the work carried out at Westgate School in Slough, pictured, to install a personal alarm system through local installer DA Security Systems.

About the school

The Westgate School first opened its doors in 1958 and now serves a wide geographical area to the west of Slough in Berkshire. The comprehensive school has over 1,000 11 to 19 year olds. It is the designated school in its vicinity for students with physical disabilities who are in mainstream education.

Building regulations state that any non-domestic structure with more than one storey must provide a safe area of refuge for any person who cannot easily use fire escapes, lifts and stairs. Maureen Mallinson, Business Manager at The Westgate School, says: ‘Our disabled students are often taught in first floor classrooms. Therefore, as some of them are unable to be removed from their custom-built wheelchairs, in the event of a fire or other emergency they have to congregate in one of three designated refuge areas while the emergency services configure an appropriate evacuation strategy.’

In an emergency, staff and other responsible adults need to know exactly where disabled students are, and quickly, to act. In a highly distressing situation, it is vital that the students have a system that is simple and effective.

Cooper Security recommended local partner, DA Security Systems, to install a personal alarm. The installation company’s managing director, Lee Upton, says: ‘This was a very specific set of circumstances that required a best-in-class solution. We have worked closely with Cooper Security for a number of years and the quality of their products is only matched by their service and support. I was confident that the company would be able to offer something suitable.’

After arranging a meeting, Luke Turton, security systems specialist at Cooper Security, visited the site and offered recommendations. All disabled students who are unable to use the lift in the event of an emergency have now been issued with a Cooper Security 701r pendant or a 702r ‘watch’ style narrow band FM radio transmitter, depending on their preference, and worn during school hours. These transmitters are powered by a lithium manganese dioxide battery, to give at least 20,000 operating cycles, or three years of life if used twice per day.

Turton says: ‘When activated an alert is sent to a Cooper Security 768r radio receiver that is integrated with a paging system. This, in turn, sends a message to all members of staff, who are then able to pinpoint the exact location of the student. A specially installed light in the area goes green when the message has been successfully sent, in order to reassure the student at what can be a stressful time.’

The 768r narrow band receiver enables users to see at a glance the status of up to eight transmitters and by adding the company’s 769 expanders that figure can rise up to 32 transmitters. DA Security installed dedicated cameras in refuge areas, which transmit images to a central monitor placed at the main reception area – as an indicator to the 999 services as to where the students are on the first floor.

At installation DA Security’s team were able to do the work during the summer holidays so as to avoid any disruption to Westgate’s day-to-day activities. Lee Upton says: ‘Functionality and flexibility are built into the design of Cooper Security’s products, which always helps. Although this project was complicated in places, Cooper Security’s Technical Support team – many of which have been installers themselves – were always on hand to answer any questions that we had.’

Westgate Maureen Mallinson adds: ‘Finding a solution that would meet all our needs was proving difficult until Lee recommended Cooper Security. The products are incredibly user friendly and I’m confident that in the event of an emergency they will help ensure the safety of our disabled students.’

For further information – call +44 (0) 1594 545 454 or E:mail


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