As the old saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Several months ago at Parkridge Centre, a long term care home in Saskatoon, several residents and a volunteer were riding an elevator when it got stuck. The incident was unsettling, but thankfully no one was hurt. However, the incident led to the volunteer bringing forward concerns to managers. After a thorough investigation and significant planning, a new communication system in all the elevator cars in the building has been installed this spring.

PRC Security tests the elevator car camera, active when Emergency button pressed.

Parkridge Centre Security tests the elevator car camera, active when Emergency button pressed.

“We wanted to improve safety for residents, visitors and staff,” says Cindy Bowering, Quality and Safety Manager with Facilities Management at the Region. “We looked at many different options but it was actually a co-worker of mine that brought forward the idea for the technology we are using.”

The old elevators, while meeting all industry safety codes, only had a localized alarm that passengers could press in the event of an emergency. This was not ideal as someone needed to be close by to hear the alarm and there was no direct way to speak with the passengers in the elevator to find out what was wrong. The new Commend Intercom System, which was installed this spring in all four elevator cars in the building, gives direct access for the individual responding to the alarm, in the form of video or audio, to the passengers.

“We got on board immediately when our volunteer brought forward her concerns,” says Maureen Beisel, Manager of Resident Care at Parkridge Centre. “It was the right thing and the safe thing to do for everyone who lives and works here. Elevators are critical pieces of infrastructure for us as many of our residents have mobility restrictions so these elevators need to work and they need to be safe.”

The new system connects the passenger(s) to a phone number for someone chosen by Parkridge staff while viewing the passenger on camera. If that person does not pick up within a certain number of rings, the call is forwarded to another number until someone answers. It also features a scream alert, which means a button doesn’t even have to be pressed to activate the system. A useful product when the emergency could mean someone is immobilized on the floor and can’t reach a button.

“The new system really means peace of mind,” adds Beisel.

PRC Maintenance and Facilities staff

(Left to Right) Wayne Von Hagen (PRC Maintenance), Maureen Beisel (PRC Site Leader), Cindy Bowering (Facilities), Kelly Burrows (Facilities), Mike Lee (Facilities) and Deidre McDonald (PRC Manager)