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5.1 Duress Alarms

Last Modified: 04-May-2017 Review Date: 01-Jun-2019

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Purpose

​​This section provides guidance on when duress alarms (duress) should be used, such as in the event of serious and dangerous situations when normal telephone operation is not practical and when an urgent and immediate response is required.

Practice Requirements

  • ​​​All rostered residential care workers must carry a duress with them at all times where available for their own safety and the safety of other workers and children in care. 
  • Some country residential group homes may not have an emergency alarm system due to their remoteness and the lack of security companies able to respond. In these instances residential care workers must call the emergency number 000.​​

Procedures

  • Overview
  • Operating duress alarms in an emergency:
  • Telephone numbers and voice code:
  • If the alarm is activated in error:
  • If mains power fails:
  • Duress alarm testing (must be completed weekly):
  • Overview

    ​Most residential group homes have a duress connected to the main telephone line. Pressing and holding the buttons on a portable duress for three seconds activates this alarm. 

    Residential care workers must carry the duress on their person at all times while on shift. Failure to do so could lead to Workers’ Compensation being refused if it is deemed that the incident was foreseeable and residential care workers did not take reasonable steps to protect themselves. 

    Duress alarms should be used in serious and dangerous situations that can no longer be managed when normal telephone operation is not practical, and when an urgent and immediate response is required. If unsure, activate the alarm. 

    At the beginning of each shift the portable duress alarms must be taken over from staff on the previous shift. 

    Many country residential group homes do not have an emergency alarm system due to their remoteness and the lack of security companies able to respond. Residential care workers should instead call 000. ​

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    Operating duress alarms in an emergency:

    1. ​​​​Activate the alarm by depressing the buttons on the portable duress alarm for three seconds. On units with two buttons, both should be depressed. 
    2. When the alarm is activated a signal is sent to the monitoring company control room. A blue strobe light will activate in the home (if fitted). 
    3. The monitoring company will attempt to contact the home first. If there is no response they will notify the police. Police will attend the home. 

    After the emergency, residential care workers must reset the wall mounted alarm unit. It will not respond to further duress signals until this is done. This should be done at the earliest possible time.

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    Telephone numbers and voice code:

    ​​The name and contact number of the security company and voice code should be displayed clearly next to the main office telephone in each residential facility.​​

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    If the alarm is activated in error:

    1. ​​Advise the control room that the alarm was accidentally activated – you must quote the residential unit’s voice code. 
    2. Staff at the control room will decide whether to contact Police (if not already done). 
    3. Reset the alarm. 
    4. Record the incident in the Log Book.

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    If mains power fails:

    ​​If the mains power fails, the control room will receive a signal to indicate mains failure and the unit will automatically revert to battery power.​

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    Duress alarm testing (must be completed weekly):

    1. ​​Ring the security company. 
    2. Quote voice code. 
    3. Ask for the system to be switched to test mode. 
    4. Test all duress alarms. 
    5. Reset alarm - key the appropriate code into the wall mounted unit after each activation. 
    6. Ring the security company to check that all signals went through and ask for system to be put back on line. 
    7. Log the number of alarms tested and whether or not they are working. 

    Note: If the security company does not receive all duress signals, further testing is necessary to identify which unit is not working. Residential care workers must: 

    • ​clearly mark the unit as faulty 
    • log the duress alarm as faulty, and 
    • inform the manager. ​

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Related Resources

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