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Mobile Personal Emergency Response Devices: New Technologies Enable Care Specialists to Help Dispatchers and First Responders Deliver Faster, Better Care

Author: Tom Collopy, Securus

Date: 2014-04-11
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Personal emergency response system (PERS) technologies have evolved dramatically from the late 1980s homebound systems that relied on landline phones and only worked in and around the home. Now, leading edge mobile PERS devices enable users to have two-way voice contact with emergency care specialists 24/7 at home and away from home by utilizing cellular coverage. Some mobile PERS devices also leverage GPS for location, while others utilize 9-1-1 U-TDOA technologies.

 

The Emergency Care Specialist: A Valuable Ally
Emergency care specialists are highly trained and certified monitoring professionals that specialize in the unique needs of PERS customers and handling emergency situations. When specialists receive an emergency call, they speak with the user to determine whether emergency response is warranted, thus eliminating false alarms and saving valuable resources. If emergency care is required, the specialist notifies the 9-1-1 emergency services communications center for the jurisdiction in which the PERS user is located (also relays to them any relevant user-provided medical data), and then that 9-1-1 center then dispatches (via their own radio/wireless/computerized dispatch system) the proper emergency resources at its disposal. The medical information that is provided to the 9-1-1 center is especially valuable in cases where users are unable to provide this detail themselves, and it also helps emergency personnel to know what to expect when they arrive on scene. The emergency care specialist serves as a go-between, serving the PERS user by relaying their info quickly to the proper responding authority.

In non-emergency situations, specialists can also send family members or loved ones to assist users. Specialists are an outstanding “first line of defense” when it comes to helping first responders act quickly, appropriately and with access to vital information.

 

New Technology Yields Better Response
An example of one mobile PERS device, the eResponder by Securus, Inc., utilizes a unique technology to streamline emergency response for lost or disoriented users.

Here’s how it works: An eResponder user presses a single button to initiate a two-way voice call with an emergency care specialist for help. The emergency care specialist asks the user specific questions to determine what kind of help is needed and whether the user needs to be located. The specialist gathers information from the user and has access to data provided by the user previously, including allergies, medical conditions, medications, lockbox codes and preferred hospital.

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If emergency personnel are needed and the user knows his or her location, the specialist notifies the 9-1-1 emergency services communications center for the jurisdiction in which the PERS user is located, and that 9-1-1 center then dispatches the proper emergency resources at its disposal. The emergency care specialist stays on the line with the user until help arrives.

In the rare event the user cannot provide an address or location in an emergency, the specialist can trigger the user’s eResponder device to call 9-1-1. This puts the user in direct contact with 9-1-1 operators, who communicate with the user and locate the user with U-TDOA. While the user is on the line with the 9-1-1 operator, the specialist is placed on hold. When 9-1-1 operators have gathered the necessary information and dispatched emergency personnel, they will hang up, and the eResponder user is automatically reconnected with the specialist, who will remain on the line with the user until help arrives. Once help arrives, the specialist will call the user’s emergency contacts - family members, children, neighbors or friends who have been designated by the user to be notified in the event of an emergency.

 

A Vital Role When Seconds Count
The emergency care specialist fulfills an extremely valuable role in managing emergency response for users from start to finish and in improving both the speed and quality of care provided by dispatchers and first responders.

In addition, perhaps one of the most valuable services the specialist provides is simply a caring, reassuring voice at the end of the line to comfort a user in distress until help arrives. By staying on the line and keeping the user calm, the specialist can help to reduce panic and confusion at the scene, making it easier for first responders to provide the fastest, most appropriate care, while also freeing up 9-1-1 dispatchers to take other emergency calls.

Tom Collopy is CEO of Securus, Inc., a GPS Tracking Device and Service Provider for people, pets, emergency care, and emergency responders.   For more information, see www.securusgps.com/

Photo: Huntsville, Alabama, Emergency Communciations Dispatcher. 9-1-1 Magazine file photo (via Intergraph)

 

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