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New security systems installed at Perham hospital, schools

Shooting and killing sprees, the most recent Nov. 5 at the Ft. Hood military base, can't happen here in west central Minnesota...right?


As remote as the prospects may be, emergency services officials must plan for the worst-whether it's a tornado ripping through East Otter Tail County; or a gun-toting terrorist on a rampage.

"It is the reality of the world we live in today," said Jim Rieber, emergency services director for Perham Memorial Hospital and East Otter Tail County.

Two Perham institutions have installed new security systems. Both Perham Memorial Hospital and Home and the Perham school district recently installed security systems, from Arvig Communication Systems (ACS).

The killings in Columbine, over a decade ago, were the real wake up call, said Rieber.

"Nationally, Columbine demonstrated that this is real...and that it can happen anywhere," said Rieber. That's when schools and institutions began seriously assessing security systems. "Every place is vulnerable. If somebody is willing to die to commit terrorism in one form or another, there isn't a place they can't gain access to."

The Perham hospital was in need of an upgrade to its existing system, while the Perham school system was looking for its first automated security system.

The hospital is divided into seven zones, all monitored by video cameras, explained Rieber. With the click of a button, all perimeter doors can be locked.

"The hospital system will both enhance and integrate with their current security components," according to Eric Pilgrim, ACS Security Solutions.

For PMHH, the security system was a $20,000 investment. It is also "portable," noted Rieber, so it can be relocated and adapted as necessary to install in the new Perham hospital, scheduled to open in 2011.

"We will also have an entirely new range of security for the new hospital," said Rieber. In total, PMHH will be investing about $100,000 in security enhancements at the new facility.

With one software package, a single monitoring site can manage both the new building and the existing nursing home and long term care buildings.

The school security system, on the other hand, will provide many new security features to the elementary, middle school and high school buildings.

"This system will give them an efficient and interactive method of monitoring and automatically locking doors at the three buildings, which was previously a manual operation. Another key feature is the ability to fully lockdown all facilities with the press of one button at one location," Pilgrim said.

The $25,000 school system was funded mostly through health and safety funds that don't affect the school's limited general operating revenue.

Pilgrim says the company's security business is very busy these days. The trend toward more criminal activity is prompting more schools, businesses, government institutions and individual residents to look for security options. "The ability to provide timely support from a local, professional company, combined with the top-of-the-line Honeywell equipment utilized by ACS, are major selling points of the ACS Security Solutions," said Pilgrim.

ACS is a full-service telecommunications provider based in Perham. In addition to local telephone, digital television and high-speed Internet access, ACS also provides long distance telephone service, business telephone systems, security solutions, cellular phones and service, and more. For more information, visit them online at