Security Partners closes central station after operator tests positive for coronavirus

Monitoring company relies on triple redundancy during five-day shutdown of San Antonio center, and temporary shutdown of Lancaster site
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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

LANCASTER, Pa.—Based here in one of the hardest hit counties being in such close proximity to New York, Security Partners LLC had what any company would consider its worst fear come true: An employee working at one of its three central stations had tested positive for coronavirus.

“We were hit hard and we feel it's important to share and talk about it, rather than hide behind this virus,” Security Partners Owner and CEO Patrick Egan told Security Systems News. “We also wanted to talk about having the right plans and policies in place for your employees, including getting people to think about the importance of having redundancy during this unprecedented time.”

Egan explained that a central station operator at its San Antonio facility had tested positive on April 1 after symptoms arose following self-quarantining for a week starting the day the operator found out their daughter had been in the dorm with someone who had tested positive.

That day, March 23 (10 days prior to April 1), Security Partners’ San Antonio facility was operating as normal under the company’s COVID-19 pandemic emergency operating plan that had been in place since February, including shutting the facility down to visitors; extensive cleaning of workstations after each shift; only filling every other workstation; and asking employees not to come in if they had been exposed to someone or if they were not feeling well, to name a few of the precautions in place. Egan even had managers in each city reach out and secure a cleaning company just in case a complete cleaning was required moving forward.

Despite the company’s policies and best efforts, the operator did come in on March 23 to tell their manager about their daughter’s contact at the dorm. And once the company found out on April 1 that the operator had tested positive, Egan decided to close the central station down on that day and call in the cleaning company for a thorough cleaning and disinfection of all areas in the facility, from workstations, to bathrooms, to common areas — a process that cost approximately $4,000, Egan noted. “We disinfected the entire place and cleaned everything,” he said.

Because the operator had already been out 10 days starting on March 23, Security Partners decided to add the additional four days before re-opening on April 6 — “just to be on the safe side and be sure that no other operators were showing signs,” said Egan. “And the fact that we had full redundancy in the other two central stations we were able to push all the traffic to Pennsylvania and Nevada and we did not miss a beat.”

Egan was happy to report that no other operators have shown any symptoms since that time at that location.

Just when Security Partners thought they were out of the woods, on April 9, one of the operators at their Lancaster site, who is an EMT, was told that one of the patients they had worked on had tested positive. Out of an abundance of caution, Security Partners closed the Lancaster facility and brought the cleaning crew in to clean and disinfect the entire facility, as they did in San Antonio, before bringing operators back to work for the later shift that day. Fortunately, no other operators have shown any symptoms since that time at that location.

Egan pointed out that the key to overcoming these challenges is having the right policies, procedures and planning in place, which must include keeping in close communication with your employees as to what steps and measures that are being taken to ensure safety.

“We were prepared for this and I think it is important to share this because there are hundreds of small independent dealers that are still monitoring their accounts from one location without redundancy, and that is just not a safe practice,” noted Egan. “And the cost of wholesale monitoring with complete redundancy is far more cost-effective than continuing to upgrade servers and hiring and training people and having them work on holidays and weekends. We are open 24-7, 365!”

He continued, “These independent companies that have less than 5,000 accounts, it doesn't make sense, or pay, to have your own monitoring, plus there are hundreds of small wholesale monitoring companies that do not have redundancy.”