"Life Alert" EMS summoning devices--what about locking the house?

You know that famous old commercial that gave us the tagline, I’ve fallen down and I can’t get up!. But AFAIK, the actual call could be answered by any local emergency service point, whether a private ambulance company, the local fire company, and in some cases maybe even the police. In fact, in L.A. the fire and EMT services have been completely merged, so if you call for an EMT you might end up getting a couple of firefighters, in full firefighting gear. Well, it makes sense, I suppose.

But my question is, is it possible for the occupant not to have to keep his door unlocked? How will they get in if they don’t other than by breaking the door down? It seems like a huge problem with the product. Suppose the occupants have pets that need to stay inside? They certainly don’t want their doors broken. There might be younger or healthier people also living in the house, but then one doesn’t need the alert system so much anyhow, right?

I don’t know what made me start wondering about this. But I do know that I like to keep my front door locked when I’m home.

Most residential doors/frames aren’t all that expensive in the grand scheme of things.
That said if there is a way to minimize damage we would do it, for example doors with glass near the handle we would try to break out the window or a section of it to reach the lock. Easier to get the glass replaced than mount a new door.

However if there is no apparent easy way in, out comes the “Universal Key*”

  • 12 pound flatback axe

In LA you almost certainly will get a truck full of firefighters, in full firefighting gear, when you call 911 and need medical services. SOP for LAFD is to send an engine to hangnails and add the ambulance if patient transport is deemed to be necessary (either by the RTO or on-scene personnel).

Around here the FD usually gets there before the EMT/Paramedics. I know they did for me when I called 911 for a medical problem. I think the FD left once the ambulance showed up and they figured out there was not a fire or any other need for them.

Huh, that brings up an interesting question of the legality of the EMTs/firefighters leaving your home open. I’m less concerned about the door frame than I am about every single one of your possessions getting jacked while you’re in the hospital. Is that just a “sorry, we had to save your life, too bad all your stuff is gone situation,” or is someone financially responsible?

Or does someone hang around to replace the door after you’re gone?

I could be wrong, but I was under the understanding that you could program these to call any number you want. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to have it call a trusted neighbor or relative and give them a key, from there that person can decide if they can help you or if they need to call 911, but atleast they can get the door unlocked. Can you set them up to call down a list until it finds someone that’s available? I don’t remember if the actual receiver makes the calls or if it summons a call center somewhere and they make the calls for you.

We used a service like this for my aunt. She kept a key safe on the door with a combination that the alert service knew and could tell the responders. They opened the safe, removed the key and opened the door. No need to break anything.

The point of the medical alarm bracelets/necklaces is that you can use them when you can’t get to the phone. And I won’t rant about fire going on EMS calls, I promise.

I have been on calls where police or fire (usually fire) will make forcible entry to a house for a medical call. It’s not something that’s taken lightly- we have to be pretty certain that someone’s actually there and needs help. We’ll also try to contact anyone that might have a key- emergency contact (if it’s a medical alarm), landlord, neighbor.

If the door gets broken, someone, usually a police officer will stay until arrangements can be made to secure the residence.

St. Urho
ETA: The key boxes are great- in most places you can leave the combination with the 911-call center.

A friend of mine had her house set on fire and she called me so I went over to console her and as her family and I watched the house burn then the firefighters work to put it out, FOUR different guys from different companies showed up.

They all were trying to get her business. What these guys do is once the fire is out they board it up so vandals can’t get in, (the house was unliveable).

Apparently they have a police/fire scanner and they follow the calls

Whenever my grandmother’s needed hers, the Life Alert operator calls the neighbor first, an ambulance second, and my mother third. Actually, I think there are two or three neighbors on the list, so if the first neighbor isn’t around, chances are good that some neighbor with a key will be reachable.

You’re very welcome. Check with them, of course. I don’t know if Grandma had to tell them the order to call in, and she wanted neighbors called first, or if that’s the default way of setting it up.

I’m puzzled how this service works. You get a Life-Alert button on a key-chain that you wear 24/7, and when you fall, you press the button that contacts the telephone to dial a number - that’s the basic technological principle of this, right?

But then the call is routed to 911, but without speaking, since you are not near a phone? How does that work? Or does the button call contact the LifeAlert operator somewhere, who looks up your name and adress in the database and sends paramedics that way?

Because we have several services here in Germany, started by Malteser, Johanniter, Arbeiterwohlfahrt (the three big charities that deal with medical help and thus have branched out to Meals on Wheels and other caring for seniors), where you get a button necklace. In all of these services, you pay a monthly fee for the cost of the operating center to which your call is connected. They have you on file, and send one of their teams to you to find out what it is, not a full ambulance.
I don’t know the details, but I assume that since you are on file there, they have a copy of the key to your house.

The necklace has a radio transponder, which is slaved to a box that’s connected to your phone line (the idea is that it has sufficient range to cover you anywhere in your house). When you press the button, it opens the radio channel, and dials the Life Alert operator, with whom you then can talk directly.

In the system my aunt had, about ten years ago, the button necklace activated the device connected to the phone line, but didn’t transmit sound to it. The device had a sensitive mike, and we placed it in a central location in her small apartment so that it could hear her (and vice versa) wherever she was. Technology may have advanced since then.

So you have pay a monthly fee for the operator, right? Why does the operator then send a full fire team, if he has the chance to talk to you? And if you are a customer of the service (instead of just buying an electronic gizmo), then shouldn’t the company have a key copy?

They don’t necessarily send a fire team. If they can talk to you and it’s not a life threatening situation, they can call a friend or relative to help you. If they can’t hear anything, they send an emergency crew and call anyone else on your list to let them know something is happening.

They don’t have a key because they are a national company serving thousands of customers, most quite far away from their headquarters.

Ma dealt with a person that had this service for over 5 years. The company has a contact list of people to contact in a certain order if it’s not a life and death emergency. Falling gets the people on the list called in the order they are prioritized. After they can not be reached or respond by going to the persons home, then they call the police, or fire department to deal with it. At that point the police or fire fighters will be breaking the window or door if necessary to help the person.

They will try contacting people for a couple hours if it’s not an emergency, and they can talk to the person that called them to see they are OK. Situations like when they can’t get off the toilet or out of a chair. Hope you’re not top of the list because you will get called multiple times a day and often at 1:00 AM.

FTR, the person who revived this thread is possibly a spammer. The link in their post does NOT go to “Life Alert”, but to an entirely unrelated company. Careful with it, until a mod checks it out. I’ve reported it.

[Moderator Note]

This thread was revived by a spammer. I have removed the spam post, plus the quote of that post that was originally being responded to here.

General Questions Moderator

Damn I wasted time posting to a stinking zombie again.:mad: