Implementing enhanced condo emergency procedures provides residents a higher chance of survival in the event of a medical emergency. Building supervisory staff should be trained on how to reduce vertical response times in the event of a medical emergency at your building.

For instance, people who experience a cardiac arrest on the third floor or above of a high-rise building have lower survival rates according to recent research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal
(http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/305223.php).

The Ontario Property Management response to this alarming research? Property Managers and Condo Boards have begun to meet this challenge head on with solutions that not only reduce vertical response times, but also ensure the residents of a building have a higher chance of surviving a medical emergency because of these actions.

Municipal emergency services; fire, police, and paramedic services alike, often experience response challenges to high-rise emergencies and they rely heavily on the person who greets them at the door of the building. The term vertical response times refers to the time it takes for Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services to get from the entrance of your building to the resident suite or area inside the building requiring assistance.

If your building security personnel are aware of the impending arrival of paramedics, they can prepare to receive them, and ensure uninterrupted access to the person or persons in need.

Implementing new procedures that bridge the gap between arriving paramedics, the building’s security team and the residents at high-rise buildings can reduce response times, providing for better patient (resident) care, all by applying the principles of emergency management to high-rise security, and knowing what paramedics need assistance with, prior to an emergency.

Ensure your building staff are cross-trained for medical emergencies and are aware of what the paramedics require when they arrive at your building. The following will reduce response times in your building:

  1. Resident information and emergency contact information. Building management should, at all times, have an up-to-date list complete with rapid access to this information.
  2. It is recommended that the security team review the “revolving door” collapse procedures on an annual basis. Paramedics require the lobby revolving doors propped open prior to their arrival. This is to allow the medical gurney to move inside with ease. Meaning, it does not matter what type of door you have, if it’s open with security on-hand and waiting, the response is seamless. Property Managers need to ensure that this is a part of their building’s security procedures. When the fire alarm rings in a building, the elevators are typically grounded to ensure rapid access for the fire departments upon their arrival. With medical emergencies, elevators do not ground, and more often than not, paramedics are forced to wait for elevators. Sometimes, they even get inside elevators with residents, further delaying the response.
  3. Ensure that residents call the front desk staff after initially calling 911 for medical emergencies. Almost always, residents contact 911 for a medical emergency and the paramedics arrive at the front door but the security staff are not aware of the call, thus not allowing the security/concierge to “prepare” to receive the paramedics. Preparations like grounding an elevator and placing it on emergency service, as well as collapsing revolving doors and clearing the fire route of cars can be of help. These preparations reduce response times and they all benefit the resident in need. Security personnel should already be trained on elevator emergency recall and fire service operations as per the fire code – so here’s another benefit to a highly trained guard.
  4. Paramedics require unrestricted access when they arrive. Parked vehicles found idling in a building’s fire route should be cleared prior to their arrival.
  5. It’s 2016 and residents now expect an AED (automated external defibrillator) in the lobby of all buildings as these machines save lives every day! In Toronto, high-rise residences are now home to 40% of over-65’s. They expect a trained security professional be qualified in first Aid, CPR & AED. In addition, as a best practice, condo security personnel should also be trained in Oxygen Management and Administration, due to the huge population using home oxygen care), complete with working knowledge of this medical equipment.
  6. You get what you pay for. Your building security guard is quite simply, the first person to respond to your resident’s needs during fire, safety and security concerns. They are in fact, your building’s police, fire and ambulance for the first five minutes of any emergency. Make sure we give them the tools. Ensure your security service provider is on the same page with respect to emergency preparedness.
  7. If your building does not have security or onsite staff, Property Managers are encouraged to reach out to their municipal emergency services and inquire about a “key lock box” program. Quite simply, this allows paramedics to access the lobby and enter the building rapidly during emergency calls to your building. Without access to the lobby doors, paramedics are often left with ringing residents on the intercom, hoping someone will answer and let them in. To quote a Senior Paramedic in Southern Ontario, “We start buzzing everyone….starting at the top of that intercom list of residents – until we get into the building.” As you can imagine, once someone lets them in…they still have to get to the elevator, push the button and await its arrival. Which is all taking time away from the emergency response.

By reducing vertical response times, building owners and Property Managers can ensure the residents of their building have a higher chance of survival, all based on reducing response times. Remember, the brain begins to die within a four to six minute window without Oxygen.