Multitone alarm system deployed at Northern Ireland trust


Eko Tek alarm system rolled out at Causeway Ross Thompson Mental Health unit and A&E department

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) has introduced Multitone’s Eko Tek alarm system at the trust’s Causeway Ross Thompson Mental Health unit and A&E department.

The Northern Ireland health trust provides a broad range of health and social care services for people across the local council areas of Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Cookstown, Larne, Magherafelt, Moyle and Newtownabbey. It also runs two main emergency departments, Antrim Area which covers the south of the region, and Causeway, which covers the northern region.

The organisation already uses Multitone’s paging, digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) and alarm monitoring solutions, and the installation of the Eko Tek system is part of a wider consolidation of communications.

Paddy Graffin, head of support services within the estates department at the NHSCT, said: “As part of our duty of care to patients and our responsibility to protect our staff, the trust made the decision to implement a system that can alert security personnel of a problem or potential problem so they can be dispatched to prevent or deal with it.

“We put the project out to tender and chose Multitone and Eko Tek because the solution seamlessly integrates with our existing communications network and also because we have an excellent long-standing relationship with the company.

“Multitone has been our internal paging provider for more than 20 years and we have an excellent working relationship, which is vital when providing communications that are essential to critical care in an acute hospital environment.”

The Eko Tek installation is part of a much wider communications ecosystem based around an installation of Multitone’s Access 3000 centrally-organised and controlled paging system. Access 3000 is used for the essential communications within the Antrim area and Causeway sites and is at the heart of the 24-hour switchboards for each facility. It also enables a backup whereby either site can take over the critical operations of the other in the event of an emergency.

Graffin said: “Many of our staff rely upon pagers. For example, we have a cardiac arrest team, maternity response teams, and anaesthetic teams spread out throughout the hospital, so if something happens they can be bleeped internally from a click on the screen in the control room. The whole process is enabled directly through the Multitone Access 3000 system.”

As well as paging, Access 3000 also supports communications to DECT phones, offering support to an essential part of the hospitals’ communication mix. DECT is widely used across the facilities as a primary source of contact for many members of staff, with more than 160 users across the main Causeway and Antrim sites, including porters, social workers and ward sisters.

Graffin said: “Our porters rely upon the DECT system, having moved away from paging that was used in the past.

As part of our duty of care to patients and our responsibility to protect our staff, the trust made the decision to implement a system that can alert security personnel of a problem or potential problem so they can be dispatched to prevent or deal with it

“Previously they would get a call which would come into the porters’ supervisor and they would have to page a porter directly. However, by using the DECT system we can contact the porter right away with the cordless handsets, making it quicker to contact the member of staff and removing the need for them to find a phone to receive further details. So, if we know that a porter is in that area, we can say direct them accordingly, saving valuable time.

“Equally, the DECT facility has proved its worth for our social worker team. On the main Antrim site they all carry DECT phones, enabling them to carry out patient’s needs at the bedside rather than having to run backward and forward to the nurses’ station. The DECT phones also enable the ward sisters to work freely around the hospital. Each member of the team has an extension number and the ability to dial out to the outside world. The other beauty of the DECT system is that if there is a failure of main telecommunications system, it keeps running by using its own small network internally, so our teams still have a phone network and the wards can easily contact each other.”

Additionally, Multitone’s Centinel alarm monitoring application is installed at the Causeway, Antrim Area, Mid Ulster, Whiteabbey Hospital, Holywell Hospital and Braid Valley Hospital sites. As well as staff security alerts, Centinel monitors for other emergencies such other potential issues with environmental controls or refrigeration systems and storage areas.

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Graffin said: “The two control rooms at our main acute main sites at Antrim Area and Causeway display all the alarms for all the other hospital sites. So, for example, if there is a failure on the Causeway site we can see the alarms for all the other sites on the Antrim site and likewise if there was an issue on the Antrim site we can see from Causeway. This gives us a resilient back-up even though they are 40 miles apart.”