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At Hospitals, Wi-Fi Sensors Can Monitor Emergency Lights, Code Blue Situations

Many of Primex Wireless' customers are using its Wi-Fi-based solutions to automate the testing of emergency lighting, measure the length of cardiopulmonary emergencies, record temperature levels and detect water leaks.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 07, 2012Primex Wireless, a company focused on facility-monitoring solutions, including those that help hospitals comply with regulations, has released an emergency-light monitoring system as part of its Synchronous Network System (SNS) platform. The system employs Wi-Fisensors, as well as a solution for transmitting the status of a cardiopulmonary emergency (Code Blue), to a back-end system, in order to track how long a Code Blue situation lasts. The firm also offers a Wi-Fi-based temperature-monitoring solution for coolers and warmers. The new systems are currently being utilized by hundreds of hospitals, the company reports.

Primex Wireless, which has been in business for nearly four decades, offers facility-management solutions for the health-care industry, with 13,000 customers, hundreds of which are now using its wireless solutions to help them track data regarding their equipment and how it operates, as well as Code Blue details, according to Mike O'Brien, Primex Wireless' director of product research and marketing. By using technology to automate data collection, he explains, hospitals are better able to meet regulatory requirements, while also improving staff efficiency since equipment would not need to be monitored manually.

Primex Wireless' SNS software receives data from each Wi-Fi sensor or emergency light tag. Based on that information, it displays the status and alerts regarding those devices.

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The latest addition to the SNS platform enables a hospital to use its existing Wi-Fi network to collect information about the operational status of the emergency lights installed within its facilities. Without an automated solution such as this one—known as SNS Emergency Light Monitoring—a hospital's facility-management staff must regularly check batteries and bulbs on emergency lights throughout its building or campus, to ensure that they are operating effectively and not nearing the end of their lifecycle, as is required by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulations.

Primex Wireless supplies emergency lights and illuminated exit signs with built-in Wi-Fi transmitters and sensors to measure the current reaching the lamps. Because the testing of all emergency lights within a large hospital can require a great deal of Wi-Fi bandwidth, facility managers can schedule monthly or annual emergency light testing procedures, to begin automatically at specified times when the Wi-Fi network may be less in use, such as during the middle of the night. Each emergency light's Wi-Fi tag transmits data to the hospital's Wi-Fi nodes regarding the health of its battery and bulbs. That information is then forwarded back to the SNS software, which determines whether there are any problems, and notifies the maintenance staff accordingly. The technology, O'Brien says, can also be retrofitted into existing lighting, depending on a fixture's age and style.

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