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In the past bullet proof installation was entirely a matter of adding bullet resistant panels and windows to existing structures. Even though many modern buildings are now designed with bullet proof security in mind, half the work done by Total Security Solutions continues to be retrofitting.
Each Job is a Special Challenge
According to Total Security Solutions vice president Jim Richards, “One of the things a lot of companies struggle with, but we’ve really grown to enjoy, is that you have to keep in mind that every single job is different. When you walk into a pharmacy, you can’t think of any of the banks or the gas stations that you’ve done; it’s a completely different operation.”
One advantage to retrofitting is that you can see how workers actually interact with the existing space. A good system provides security without complicating interactions and work flow. Jim points out that “you always have to think about how the person who is going to be behind the bullet proof panels functions and operates day-to-day. How can we design this system to allow him to continue to do what he does without impeding him?”
Making a Pharmacy Bullet Proof
As an example, Jim points to pharmacies–especially since independent pharmacies increasingly find themselves in need of a bullet proof system. For practical and security reasons a pharmacy’s workspace is very constrained: tiny built-in desks must hold scales, computers, a cash register, and so on. Generally, customers come in at the far right of the platform, hand over a prescription, and then flow left as the pharmacist dispenses or prepares a compound. This is finally handed to the customer through a separate pick-up window at the far left. It might seem that securing the space is as easy as closing off the platform with bullet resistant fiberglass panels and installing bullet proof transaction at either end.
But in practice pharmacists talk to customers throughout the dispensing process: Would you like a generic or name brand? Would you prefer an easier to swallow pill or gel-cap? Does your child like cherry- or grape-flavored syrup? Closing off the platform with bullet proof panels forces the pharmacist to run to either end and call for the customer’s attention. The platform needs to have bullet resistant glass windows along its length, each with a talk-thru.
Likewise, although a cash tray is just fine for handing a prescription slip or payment to a pharmacist, prefabricated cash trays are often too shallow to pass bottles or packaged antibiotics. A prefabricated rotary suzanne or package passer can do the job, but these take up a lot of space. Even smaller custom package passers can be cumbersome to a busy pharmacist. Jim found that “when possible, pharmacists would rather just slide a prescription through the cash tray. We decided to design a taller, deeper cash tray, so they can pass the pills through that while completing the transaction.”
The Biggest Retrofitting Challenge
Banks call for a similar sensitivity to the customer interactions that make up day-to-day business, especially clear voice transmission. And the importance of maintaining clear lines of sight for security systems and personnel favors ballistic glass over adding lots of walls with bullet proof panels.
But the biggest challenge is in bullet proof security retrofitting a gas station. Like a pharmacy, it’s a tight work space serving a small retail floor crammed with merchandise. As in a bank, clerks need to be able to chat with customers and want clear lines of site. But, in contrast to banks and pharmacies, most gas stations that need bullet proof panels and windows run on a 24-hour schedule. “We have a very limited window during which we can shut down that transaction area”, Jim says, “You try to work as fast as you can because you know that customer is loosing money if he’s down.”