Panic or Hold-up Systems

Description and Purpose

A panic system is used to provide a basic cry for help. Although typically used in Intrusion Detection Systems for Hold-up alarm applications, panic buttons provide important notification capabilities for many critical conditions.

In a Hold-up system, the button typically invokes a policy at a distant monitoring station. In Fire Alarm systems, the Manual Pull Station is a type of panic button that specifically requests emergency service from the Fire Department. In addition, it invokes local policies by activating Notification Appliances.

Because a panic button can cause policies to be invoked at a distance, and locally, it is ideal for being the initial trigger for any kind of policy. This document briefly discusses some applications where a panic button can be used.

Panic buttons can be used to invoke a pre-determined policy in response to a given critical event. You can choose to display and acknowledge critical events from the system keypad, the monitoring station, or both.

Consider applying a panic system to a laboratory facility. Materials stored at a laboratory may be acids, gases, bases, or bio-toxins. Many of these items are classified by the CDC as Select Agents. You can see examples of OSHA’s policies regarding handling, storage, and cleanup at their web site at


For each chemical, there is a specific policy regarding its handling, storage, cleanup, fire suppression, or medical treatment. Policy enforcement is a challenge because it involves two people: the person who discovered or caused the critical event, and the supervisor who invokes the policy locally. Other facility occupants should not depend upon the personality and mood of those who discover and those who decide how to react to a critical event.

Proper local notification is essential in a crisis. To speed assistance during a crisis, the person who discovers or causes a critical event should notify others in the local building or department by using a Panic System. In a laboratory or storage facility, when a particular panic button is pressed, the system activates a particular notification for the crisis. This particular notification initiates a particular local procedure to cleanup or repair that which caused the crisis.

Furthermore, proper authority notification is essential in a crisis. It is important for responding authorities to be prepared for a specific crisis. Equipment and tool requirements vary based upon the nature of the crisis.


Where to use Panic Systems

There are many facility types that include Panic systems in the building systems. Some examples of these facilities include cash payment centers, banks, retail stores, laboratories, pharmacies, and public processing centers.