What Is A Medical Alert System?

A medical alert system, also known as a medical alarm, is a device that can be used to signal for help in case of a medical emergency, disaster or life-threatening hazard. These systems are used to summon an emergency medical response team.

This system, commonly referred to as the Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), consist of a wireless wearable bracelet or pendant with a transmitter which allows it to remain active all the time. This is the key to this system’s smooth operation and allows it to be activated during an emergency.

When the transmitter is activated, a wireless signal is sent to the central station of the company or any other emergency response agency that can respond immediately. Medical officers are immediately dispatched from the agency to the area from where the emergency alarm signal is received. The elderly as well as individuals who live alone commonly use this device.

As hard to believe as it is, these systems are not new, and have been in use for two to three decades.

Medical alert systems are the brainchild of Wilhelm Horman, who came up with the idea during early 1970s in Germany. The idea behind the first PERS was to facilitate individuals who live alone, have some medical disability or unable to visit the local healthcare facility. Wilhelm’s intention was to evolve and refine both ambulance-based and non-ambulance based care response systems.

After carrying out a tireless study and research on the functioning of the healthcare provision methods being used around him and constantly revising the final product, Horman released Hausnotruf (German for ‘home alert’) to the public in the 1980s.

However, the American International Telephone Company was the first to release the first medical alert system device based on Horman’s research in 1975. This device was limited in functionality and only issued a basic SOS call to an emergency contact within friends or family without stating the nature of the emergency.

Modern age devices have come a long way from there, are much more advanced and perform multifarious functions. They have become more portable and user-friendly.

How do medical alert systems function?

The main components of a medical alert system are: a base station, an emergency response call center, emergency contacts and the transmitter. When an individual presses the button on his bracelet or amulet, the transmitter connects the call with the call center via the base station. An agent at the call center picks up the communication line and tries to contact the caller through the speaker in the amulet to understand the nature of the emergency.

If agent is unable to ascertain the nature of emergency from the individual, he or she then calls the emergency contact listed with the agency, which could be a friend, a family member or even a neighbor. Once contacted, the caller’s friend or relative can reach their house to provide assistance or get in touch with local emergency response authorities.

The transmitter, which makes the emergency call, is actually a very small chip that is fitted in a bracelet, amulet or any other piece of jewelry. The seamless design protects it from damage as well as allows it to remain inconspicuous, but accessible, all the time.

The base station is a stationary communication box that is fitted securely on a wall normally in the center of the individual’s house or flat. It allows connection to be set up between the transmitter and the emergency response call center via a cellular network or a landline telephone connection. The station’s signal range determines the efficacy of the medical alert system. The range normally provides a lot of freedom and the individual does not have to worry about the signal getting blocked in an emergency. The average range of the base station varies from 300 ft to up to 2000 feet.

Like all security systems, most medical alert systems involve one time device fee with a monthly subscription fee.

In what scenarios are medical alert systems needed?

Medical alert systems might seem redundant and pointless to the majority of the population, however, they are an invaluable asset to someone who is living alone and is suffering from a long term illness. These systems are mostly intended for the elderly but there are many cases of individuals from other age groups who consider them to be an important part of their daily life.

Certain diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis and stroke, often leave debilitating effects on the body that hamper every day functioning. Similarly, some people are born with birth defects that make them dependent on others for support. These devices can help these individuals live alone but with a sense of security that they can reach out whenever they feel the need.

What key features should one look for when buying a medical alert system?

A good medical alert system should consist of a good hardware, which means that the device should reliable, function as intended, and can be easily fixed or replaced. It is extremely crucial that the emergency response system agents provided by the company are available 24/7, have the necessary qualification and training, and can respond in a timely manner. The monthly subscription fees should be easy to cancel or renew without any hidden charges. Last, but certainly not the least, medical alert system should offer round the clock technical support and customer support. Whatever the case may be, if you are looking for specialized features or basic version, your health should be the priority of your medical alert system.

What is the price range?

Cost is a major factor when choosing a medical alert system that caters to all your needs. On average, medical alert system monthly subscription fees adds up to $30 but can exceed, depending on add-ons or special features. This is the basic subscription fee and should be enough to offer help during an emergency.  There are a lot of good medical alert systems such as Phillips Lifeline and Medical Guardian and their base cost range varies from $25 to $30 per month.

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