What Is A Medical Alert System and How Do They Work?


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Medical alert systems are often seen as a safety net for people who may be at risk of falls. They can help individuals in need to get help when they might not otherwise have been able to do so by themselves, with the wearer only needing to press a button on their device when they’re feeling unsafe or unable to call for themselves.  This article will explore what medical alert systems are, why you may need one, and how they work.

What is a medical alert system?

A medical alert system is a device that is worn or carried by someone who may experience poor health temporarily, be at risk of falling or have another type of emergency. The user wears a medical alert device which allows them to contact emergency services when needed.  If they need assistance, they can simply press the button on the device, and help will arrive soon.

The signal is picked up by a monitoring center who will then dispatch emergency services if necessary.  Different types of systems work in different ways, but they all provide an easy way for you or your loved one to get help when they need it most. Activation typically occurs when an emergency call button on the device is pressed.

Who might need one?

A medical alert system can be very beneficial for some individuals because they allow others – typically family members or carers- to watch their loved ones without physically doing it themselves. The medical alert pendant provides peace of mind since help will always be available in time of need. Even if it’s just a false alarm or someone has pressed the button accidentally, the benefits can’t be taken for granted.

People who are experiencing temporary health issues or are at risk of falling can use a medical alert system to contact help for them. Typically anyone with specific health needs would benefit from the use of one, but people who live alone and do not have constant supervision might find comfort in having this device.

The benefit of a medical alert system

A benefit of having a medical alert system is that you can contact emergency services when needed. They are beneficial for those at risk of falling or have medical needs, including those who are bedridden, suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, have mobility issues, or experience injury. Essentially, whether the condition is mild or grave, the medical alert system is quite helpful.

Wired vs. wireless medical alert system

A wired system involves some form of corded device that plugs into a telephone line via RJ-11 connector requiring only two wires to operate. It requires an existing landline connection at home but can provide more reliable service without any interruption.

What Is A Medical Alert System and How Do They Work - Ambulance Team
Image: Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels

On the other hand, a wireless system is powered by batteries and allows the user to roam freely around their home. It typically consists of a base unit with an inbuilt speaker that you can carry or wear, along with alert devices used when needed. The range provided by these units varies, but they are less reliable compared to wired systems – although they are easy to install without wires for support technicians who need to set up the equipment at your place.

How do medical alert systems work?

A medical alert system works through two-way communication between the user and a monitoring station. A base unit connects to existing telephone lines via a corded phone or a cellular network via wireless devices. When the user presses the emergency button on their device, an alarm is activated and alerts the monitoring station of an emergency. The monitoring station then contacts the user to find out if they need assistance or not. If they do, help will be dispatched immediately.

MMS and automated text messaging can be used for much more than just SMS marketing. Most medical alert systems provide help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling the number of someone you choose when activated.  Most systems will automatically send an SOS text message with your GPS location if you cannot speak. This can also be used mid-call to tell the monitoring center that you need assistance, even if you cannot communicate with them.

Medical alert systems are activated when an emergency call button on the device is pressed. They contact the pre-determined number of people who you have chosen, typically including family members and medical professionals, so help is always available when required.

How can you get one?

Medical alert systems are available for purchase over the counter at specialist suppliers or online via websites like Amazon. They are relatively easy to install yourself compared to other types of assistive technology since they don’t require wires and can be done by anyone with essential hand tools and knowledge of home electrical wiring.  The device must be installed correctly so that you’re not putting yourself in danger by setting it up haphazardly. Once installed, you can put it to use straight away and rest easy, knowing that help will be on its way if the need arises.

Features to look out for

When choosing a medical alert system, there are some features you can look out for. One such feature is the ability to add other forms of home safety equipment such as smoke alarms and fire extinguishers that will work together with your device to alert emergency services if necessary. This could help reduce the risk of fires at home or ensure that you’re not left stranded in an emergency situation without the proper tools to get yourself out safely.

Another feature worth considering is a GPS location tracker, which can pinpoint your location when activated. Hence, responders know where you are even if you aren’t able to communicate with them properly. If installed correctly, this feature should provide peace of mind knowing that help is on its way quickly no matter what emergencies may arise.

Medical alert systems can be a great way to help you avoid injury or even save your life should the need arise. Be sure to do thorough research before deciding what system is suitable for you and how it works best with other safety equipment in your home. With this information, we hope that you’ll better understand why medical alert systems are so valuable and will want one installed in no time.

Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Eugene Angoluk. The photo in the body of the article was taken by Pavel Danilyuk.

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