Oklahoma integrator High Tech Tronics rides out storm

Marc Bradley: ‘We’re thinking seriously about getting a [tornado] shelter at the office’
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY—All employees of High Tech Tronics, a PSA Security systems integrator based here, survived the May 20 tornado, but one employee lost his home, CEO Marc Bradley told Security Systems News.

“We have four employees who live in Moore, but one gentleman lost everything,” Bradley said. As Bradley described it, this employee “put his company hard hat on his young child, [put the child in his car and] outran the tornado” in his car.

When the employee returned to his house, it was flattened, and his High Tech Tronics company truck was sitting in what was formerly his living room.

Several other employees have relatives who lost their homes, Bradley said.

High Tech Tronics does security for the hospital in Moore, which was severely damaged, and it did the PA systems and intercom for all of the schools in Moore, including the two that were destroyed by the tornado.  

Asked if he had thoughts about how security systems hold up in a disaster like this, Bradley said he’s always recommended that school intercom systems not be solely IP, that they have at least an eight-hour UPS backup.

“When the tornado hit, the Internet [was] the first thing to go,” he said.

The systems High Tech Tronics installed in Moore were interconnected via the Web among the different school buildings and could be centrally controlled from the administration building. However, all of the systems could operate independently, something that’s important if—as was the case on May 20—the system in the administration building is compromised.

However, Bradley said that he and others are now thinking less about electronic security and more about the importance of shelter during a tornado.

Seven children died at Plaza Towers Elementary School during the tornado. An intercom system can notify the children and staff of an issue, “but the problem was that they had no place of shelter for the children,” Bradley said.

Bradley said he’s certain that school systems and commercial buildings, High Tech Tronics included, will be thinking more about installing tornado shelters. “We looked into it last year, but we didn’t do it,” he said. “We’re thinking seriously about building a shelter for the office. We normally have about 12 people in the office and it’s their home 10 hours a day.”

Bradley predicts it will be at least a year before the region gets back to normal. It’s estimated that the damage will total about $300 billion. For right now, however, many are concerned about the basics: food, clothing and water.

The water supply at Bradley’s office “has slowed to a trickle” and area residents have been told not to drink the water because the water treatment plant is shut down.

“And we have three or four weeks left in the tornado season,” he said.