This article was originally published by the Boston Herald on April 5, 2015.
By Jordan Graham
Newton-Wellesley Hospital will be rolling out new, non-lethal devices for its security staff in the coming weeks, as hospitals across the country have seen an increase in violent attacks by patients.
“As the services in the community decrease, more folks turn to the emergency room for their needs,” said Dave Corbin, director of public safety at Newton-Wellesley. “(Hospitals are) all saying we’re seeing more violence, and if any hospital turns around and says they’re immune to it, they’re either in the middle of nowhere or they’re lying. It’s certainly a trend across health care.”
Violent crime in U.S. hospitals increased by 25 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to an International Healthcare Security and Safety Foundation report, and disorderly conduct has increased by 40 percent over the same time period. In January, a cardiovascular surgeon was shot and killed in his office at Brigham and Women’s Hospital by the son of a former patient.
Newton-Wellesley is training its officers to use the Pro V2, a high-tech device designed specifically for security staff.
“It was built with this layered defense concept in mind, as the situation intensifies it is able to escalate and meet that threat, without getting carried away,” said Paul Hughes, chief operating officer for Guardian 8, an Arizona-based company that sells the devices.
Guardian 8 will be at the ASIS International Boston Security Expo 2015 on Thursday in Boxboro to show off the Pro V2.
The Pro V2 has three phases to respond to escalating threats.
The first phase simply records audio and video — Newton-Wellesley will only record video thanks to the state’s wiretapping laws. The second stage emits a strobe light and a siren, intended to catch an aggressive person off-guard. The last phase shoots a concentrated stream of pepper spray, which the company says is more reliable and precise than traditional pepper spray canisters.
“This is purely a defensive tool,” Hughes said.
Corbin said the decision to use the device was not based on a single incident, but was part of a regular evaluation of the hospital security practices. Newton-Wellesley had planned to get pepper spray canisters for its security staff, but decided the Pro V2 was a better fit for the hospital.
“It takes the old-school pepper spray can, which is a dumb device,” Corbin said, “and wraps it in technology.”