Bullet Proof Glass Design Challenge: The Texas Blood Box

Few bullet proof glass installations are just a matter of bolting up some milled sheets of acrylic and anchoring ballistic panels to the walls. Every job has its tricky moments, and a few demand entirely novel solutions.


Total Security Solutions was in the midst of installing bullet proof glass in the reception area at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston when the hospital realized they’d entirely overlooked a vital operation: This reception area primarily handled payments, medicine, and medical records, and had thus been outfitted with both deal trays and a large package exchange passer. But it was the area where the hospital received blood and organ deliveries. These are transported in large, rigid styrofoam coolers (similar to what you might have at a picnic or tailgate party). These coolers most often carry 150ml to 500ml bags of blood or plasma for transfusions, or occasionally fresh organs. For medical reasons, these coolers need to be transferred quickly, handled by as few staff members as possible, and kept sealed.

A styrofoam cooler is roughly three times as big as the largest available pre-fabricated bullet resistant package passer. But that isn’t to say that such a passer couldn’t be custom-crafted from bullet proof glass, bullet resistant fiberglass panels, and UL-rated bullet resistant framing and hardware. According to Total Security Solutions vice president Jim Richards, “We looked at it as something we could do that hadn’t been done before.” Thus the Blood Box was born.


The final design for the Texas Blood Box was a hybrid of a standard large package passer and an airport luggage chute. Total Security Solutions started with a two-foot-wide, two-foot-long stainless steel base covered with 25 rolling casters. These “transfer balls” look like large ball bearings, and allow the cooler to smoothly slide the length of the blood box without jostling. Mounted around this base was a three foot tall opaque wooden box backed with bullet resistant fiberglass panels. The open ends of the box were closed off by bullet proof glass doors equipped with special handles and hinges that formed an interlocking mechanism, so that only one door could be opened at a time. The entire unit was counter-mounted through a two-foot by three-foot hole in the bullet proof glass shielding the reception area.

Couriers arriving with temperature-sensitive blood or organ deliveries open the blood box’s exterior bullet proof glass door, glide the cooler in, then latch the door shut. A medical technician on the other side of the bullet proof barrier can then open the internal door–which automatically locks the exterior door–retrieve the biological materials, and rush them to the children awaiting transfusions or operations.

Jim explains: “It was something that we hadn’t done before, but we knew we had the design and manufacturing capabilities, and it was something we could provide for them. It’s not going to be a product that we ever market more widely, but situations like this are where we shine: We can design custom installations. Give us what you’re trying to achieve, and what the limitation are, and we can work within those confines.”

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