The design and development of the VAST6 was based on determining the operational requirements and parameters to achieve the protection level for an active shooter event and tornado event. The physical protection requirements are roughly the same for active shooter and for protection for a direct hit by tornado. The primary difference is the amount of time one might have to relocate for a tornado but that is not a good procedure for an active shooter event. Departing the classroom, one may run into the active shooter(s) or into a dead-end location and become trapped without adequate protection.
Our first consideration was a ballistic-capable shelter inside the classroom. Immediately, it was recognized that an adequate shelter would be too large (consume too much space) when not in use. Thus, the idea of a foldable or collapsible shelter became the goal. Next, this shelter needed to be fast to deploy (goal of 12 to 20 seconds) and easy to deploy (5% female in height, weight and strength could open).
What is often overlooked in the initial design phase is the maintainability and reliability that this type of device must achieve. First, it needs to deploy properly every time. Second, the more required maintenance, the more likely time slips by and the shelter will not be service adequately or on time. The VAST6 has its roof panels that fold upward when not in use, reducing the amount of floor space needed for the shelter. In the stored position, the roof panels are stored “energy” one might say as the roof panels assist in the opening through their gravitational falling action.
Some other shelters that made their opening and closing a “push button” activation, however none have a 100% guarantee of operational reliability. The operational reliability can be maintained through active and scheduled preventive maintenance. So opening/closing systems of hydraulics, electrical motors, chains, cables, screw rods and their control switches must be inspected, tested and repaired immediately to ensure operational capability. If preventive maintenance is not conducted routinely, chances of equipment failure increases and normally not at the right time. So as long as there is gravity, the primary source to assist in opening the VAST6 will be available.
Everyone knows that fire extinguishers in public areas are required to be inspected every 30 days. Most of the time that falls to the maintenance staff however as time slips by and these procedures may take second place to a roof leak or other potential damaging event that requires maintenance personnel to address first. Now, there are companies that are contracted to conduct the rather easy but time-consuming task of fire extinguisher inspections. Final question, have you ever checked a fire extinguisher tag and found it has been more than 30 days since inspected? My experience is about 40-50% were beyond the 30-day time period. Also, did you know that the emergency illumination hallway lights are required to be tested (at least a 30 second illumination test) and recorded every 30 days? I do not see the tags on these lights so it is hard to verify this requirement has been met.
There is an interior cabinet in the VAST6 that houses lights, batteries, fans, control panel, supplemental power, fire extinguisher location and additional storage space for support items such as first aid kit, water, hearing protection, dust masks, etc. BIG 6 LLP considers these interior lights and fire extinguisher must also meet the 30-day emergency equipment inspection requirement. The VAST6 has Built-In Test Equipment and diagnostic programming for use during the activation of the VAST6 so the teacher can control lights, fans and monitor the battery usage if facility power is interrupted. The VAST6 has a program that can “wake-up” the computer, isolates each component, runs a diagnostic routine, assembles the information into an e-mail and transmits over the school’s WiFi system. Before the e-mail is transmitted, a camera takes a picture of the fire extinguisher gauge, attaches the photo to the e-mail. Now the school has written proof that the equipment was inspected/checked without having to open and close the VAST6.