Knox Key Switch will give emergency responders access to gated communities

SOUTH WALTON, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Getting access to gated communities sometimes slows down first responders, but one local fire district says it's come up with a solution.

When responding to an emergency, any delay could mean the difference between life and death.

"Every second is vital. So the longer it takes for us to gain entry, the longer it's going to take us to perform our services," said South Walton Fire District Fire Marshal Sammy Sanchez.

And not having quick access to gated communities is something SWFD First Responders say is a typical scenario.

"Well, that seems to be the biggest problem because we are not notified. Often times, homeowner associations change, property managers change and we're often times one of the last folks that are notified of the new codes," said Sanchez. "So at two in the morning and we're trying to respond to a medical [emergency], it makes it extremely difficult to gain access."

But there is a solution.

"It's a Knox Key Switch, and what that's going to do is allow us access to gated communities and commercial properties without having to deal with specific gate codes and key fobs, transmitting devices," Sanchez explained.

With a simple installation, the Knox Key Switch would give emergency personnel immediate access in times of emergencies.

"Over the years, we've experimented with several different items: siren activation, codes, universal codes, and this seems to be the most fail-safe means of accessing these communities," said Sanchez.

Rescue workers are hoping to make the Knox Key Switch a requirement for all gated communities in the area.

"Access is important in South Walton as the community continues to grow, we find this as an important mechanism for letting our crews get in and do their job," Sanchez added.

Making Knox Key Switches mandatory in gated communities is not official yet, but the idea has been presented to the fire board.

It will have to go through two readings and allow public comment before a final decision is made.