Emergency Exit Sign

Evacuation, invacuation and lockdown: How entrance control can help you manage emergency response

Gunshots are heard…screaming…panic….

You’re responsible for the security of your building and you have seconds to assess the rapidly unfolding situation and trigger the most suitable response. Is your building equipped, and its occupants prepared, to deal with emergency situations?

We are not trying to scaremonger. It is a sad reality of today’s world that terror threats, knife and gun crimes are fast-moving incidents that every security or facilities manager needs to give high priority in their building security plans. Not to mention other potential risks such as fire, hazardous chemical leaks, civil unrest…etc.

Differing emergency situations require different types of response, with the most common three being evacuation, invacuation and lockdown. In this article we think about these three workplace emergency responses, when you would use them and the role entrance control can play in helping you to manage them.

We will begin with the one that people are most familiar with…


Evacuation involves the controlled and orderly exit of people from within your building, usually due to a fire, leaking hazardous substance or other incident in the building.


If evacuating staff to an outside location would increase the risk to them, invacuation procedures are deployed. Once a threat has been detected, employees are confined to a closed area within the building, typically away from external doors and windows.

This kind of response might be triggered if there has been a bomb threat in a neighbouring building, a chemical spillage, civil unrest, a weapons attack on the street, a nearby fire or even a dangerous dog on the loose.


Lockdown is typically used in response to a threat that is external to the building, preventing people both entering and leaving a facility. By locking external doors and windows, and moving staff to a secure area within the building, the aim is to create a barrier between the external threat and the building’s occupants, delaying attackers or preventing their progression through a building until the Police and other emergency responders arrive on the scene, and the threat has been removed.

Lockdown is usually invoked as a response to a security threat, such as an active shooter who has the intent to cause harm to a person or multiple people.

How entrance control can help monitor and manage these emergency situations

Keeping the threat out in the first place

If there is no external perimeter surrounding your building, the main entranceway into your building is likely to be the first point of contact with your employees, visitors and any possible foes.

When looking for a potential target, the first thing a criminal will scrutinise will be the main ways into a building to asses how easy it would be to enter undetected. Unless their intentions are worth the extra risk, un-authorised persons are likely to be deterred by an entrance which looks like it has suitable security in place.

Entrance control, especially when integrated with other security technologies, can go a long way towards intruder-proofing your building just by acting as a visual deterrent. If you can stop a security breach from occurring in the first place simply by making it seem unlikely to succeed, then you’re less likely to have to deal with the ramifications of an attempt.

An increasing number of our customers are choosing full-height barriers for their turnstiles to do just this. They serve not only as a strong psychological deterrent, but will also physically prevent an unauthorised intruder from gaining access, keeping the threat outside of a building in the first place.

Isolating the threat

In the event that a hostile individual has already gained access to the building, one way to minimise the threat and the damage caused is to isolate that individual. This not only helps to prevent the threat from moving through a building or the perpetrator hiding, it also makes it easier to direct the Police or other first responders to the area where that person is located.

When connected to an access control system, Fastlane Door Detectives can be controlled remotely from a central location, enabling administrators to lock internal, access-controlled doors to prevent free movement, even if a user has access permissions. This allows for the immediate securing of a building using the products web pages, preventing the threat from leaving the building or from accessing other areas of it.

Fail-safe and power-fail functions ensure unhindered but monitored emergency egress

Emergency exits need to comply with local building regulations and the requirements of emergency services for the evacuation of personnel, whilst still remaining secure. Fastlane turnstiles feature fail-safe and power-fail functions, meaning that in the event of an emergency – such as a fire – or power being lost, the turnstiles will open or release all locks to allow free and unobstructed egress.

Fastlane turnstiles are still capable of detecting people as they pass through and in which direction, maintaining a population count whilst power is uninterrupted. This provides an accurate representation of the numbers of people entering and exiting the building during normal conditions as well as during fire or other emergency egress situations.

Fastlane turnstiles also have an optional forced egress mode, available on all of our Glassgate models. This software-controlled function allows users to exit even if they are not in possession of an authorisation device. Users simply walk into the unit exit side and push gently on the glass barriers, the unit will open in the exit direction to let the user out but will alarm to signal a forced event has taken place.

This function is only performed when the beam matrix has not identified someone trying to enter the turnstile from the other direction at the same time. This also means that if someone is in the entry side of the lane, they cannot reach over and pull the barriers towards them to gain unauthorised access via force.

Population counting

As well as preventing unauthorised pedestrian access, Fastlane turnstiles (and Door Detective Plus) can provide real-time monitoring of your entrance control, with entry and exit count data provided to administrators via Fastlane Connect.

Authorised personnel can view the traffic flow of each set of turnstile and keep track of how many people are in which areas of a building. Should an emergency situation arise, building counts could be generated from a data file for specific regions of a facility, providing crucial information to help direct the first responders to the most critical areas.

In any emergency situation, your primary concern is the safety of your employees and getting them to a secure location as quickly as possible. Entrance control systems can help facilitate emergency protocols by monitoring and controlling pedestrian access, improving life safety for building occupants during an unexpected event.

Ensuring you have the right security systems and procedures in place is only half the battle; how your employees act in an emergency can mean the difference between life and death, so it’s important to rehearse any procedures you have to ensure your staff know what to do in the event of an emergency.


If you’d like to talk to a member of our team about the best entrance control systems to help facilitate your emergency protocols, please call us on +44 (0)20 8890 5550 or email info@fastlane-turnstiles.com.

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