Security and emergency preparedness are critical for the Atlanta Center for Medical Research, for the safety of participants and the confidentiality of their personal information, and for the protection of sponsors’ investigational products, lab kits, samples, and intellectual property.
ACMR's 24-hour medical staff are trained to respond to any adverse reactions or medical complications that may occur to a research participant. In these instances where a serious or life-threatening emergency presents ACMR has a helipad from which participants can be flown to level one trauma facilities.
“It’s a one in a million chance that anyone will ever need all this, but we may well have a million people come through here, so we want to be prepared.”
Access at ACMR is tightly controlled not only into the building but also into each section. The facility uses the same access control system used by large government research facilities. Card access is used throughout, and there are more than 300 security cameras, all monitored by 24-hour onsite security staff. The center’s digital records infrastructure is protected by redundant servers, locked down and hardened for security, with both onsite and offsite server backups.
For the safety of vulnerable participants and to avoid introducing confounding variables to studies, participant populations are kept separate with access controls and buffer zones.
ACMR has its own power grid: two completely redundant power feeds running from two separate substations. The facility also has two generators, two large supplies of diesel, and an arrangement in place to park additional diesel tankers at the facility in advance of any anticipated emergency. The facility can keep running for weeks without external power and has priority listing with all utility companies.
24-hour onsite maintenance staff members immediately address any maintenance issues, while one of the center’s redundant systems keeps the facility running smoothly.
The biomed department, the medical records section, and other water-sensitive areas are protected with pre-action dry pipe fire suppression systems, which are safer in this environment than gas suppression systems. ACMR also installed one of the most advanced smoke and fire alarm systems available. Each alarm is a smoke detector, alarm, strobe light (for the hearing impaired), and enunciator in one. The enunciators have networked intelligence. During fire and other emergencies, they announce where the danger is, where to go, and whether the current location is safe.
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