I set my life alert off three times yesterday, but was never in trouble. The second time was the most interesting.
I wear a life alert pendent just in case I fall while at home. It has a button I can press that activated the base set in the house. A representative comes on and ask if I’m ok. If I say no or I don’t answer they send help. If I ask for help, they go through my call list and a friend comes. I I don’t answer they assume I am unable to and immediately call the EMS service. It is a pretty nifty service really.
The pendent also has an automatic fall indicator. It contains an accelerometer like a Wiimote. If it detects a sudden movement followed by a quick stop and then no movement or very slow movement it thinks I’ve fallen and calls just as if the button had been pressed.
The problem is the auto-fall goes off all the time. I’ve only fallen once since I got the system and it didn’t go off then. I fell very, very slowly that time because my foot slipped as I was standing up and resulted in my sliding off my bed onto the floor, but not falling. However the false alarms go off at least once a week.
The most common culprits are my sitting down in a chair or rolling over in bed. The base set beeps and announces, “Calling lifeline… calling lifeline… calling lifeline…. Your call has been connected. A lifeline representative will be with you shortly.” The phone is then answered and a person goes, “My Dyck? This is Anne-Marie (or whoever is on call) from Life Line. Do you require assistance?”
The base set is in my living room. The speaker is quite loud so the voice is able to penetrate the whole home. It has a sentitive microphone too, but if I’m in bed after rolling over, I still have to alk pretty loudly to be heard.”
“No! I’m fine!”
“We detected a fall. Are you OK?”
“I’m fine. I don’t need any help. I was just rolling over.”
“OK sir. Is there anything else we can do for you?”
“No, I’m fine. Thank you.”
“OK sir. Have a good night. We are resetting your unit.”
If I am unclear as I yell at the base set there are sometimes repetitions.
Normally I have this conversation about once a week. Maybe twice a week. At first it was annoying, but now it is strangely reassuring.
Yesterday it was annoying. The first time it went off was in the middle of the night. I rolled over. The conversation went exactly as scripted above.
The second time it went off as I sat down in my car to drive to work. Of course, the one side of the conversation went off as normal, but I had no idea it was happening and thus didn’t make my normal responses.
Five minutes later I’m driving to work and my phone rings. As I’m driving I don’t answer. When I stop at a light and pull out my phone, but I don’t recognize the number. A moment later the phone beeps to let me know they left a message.
“Odd,” I think to myself. “It is before 8 am. I bet I’ve forgotten to pay a bill. However delinquent am I that it has come to early morning phone calls? Nuts.”
A few minutes later as I’m driving on the Whitemud my phone rings again.
“Odd,” I think. “I can go a week and not get a phone call, but today it goes off twice before I get to work.” I’m on the freeway so there really isn’t a chance to check the phone until I get to my parking stall at work.
The unknown number left a message. The second call was Silvestris from their home. I listen to the message. Oh-oh. Everyone thinks I’ve fallen and can’t respond. Plus I’m not answering my cell.
I call Lifeline back. “I’m fine. Not sure what set off the alarm. I’m not even home.”
“OK,” they respond.
I call Silestris, but their line is busy. I text Dave. “I’m fine.”
I call Dano. No answer. Nuts. I check my cell. I don’t have his cell number.
Dave texts me back. “You should call Dano.”
“Do you have his cell number?”
“No. Try Robin.”
I call Robin and interrupt his important coffee meeting and get Dan’s cell. Dave texts him and does the same. There is no answer on the cell either when I call.
You see what had happened was Dan had left his cell beside his home phone when he rushed out with my keys to save me. As I’m calling him at that same moment he is standing in my living room. EMS and Fire are with him. A few moments earlier Dan had arrived. The emergency services were milling about in the lobby.
Dano brandishes the keys. “To me rescue people! Are you here for Todd? Let’s go rescue him!” He leads the team up the stairs to my unit. It looks bad when they enter. My TV in my bedroom is on. (I use it as an alarm in the morning. It turns off auto-magically at 9 am.) My scooter is in the living room. (Because I drove to work that morning.) There is no answer to the EMS or Dano when they yell for me. (Because I wasn’t there.) Still I imagine the first seconds were pretty scary.
But only a couple seconds. 7 people are pretty quick to determine that they were the only ones in the unit.
“Can you try calling him?”
But Dano has forgotten his cell at home and can’t remember my number. He must now navigate my barely functional cordless phone. He calls Silvestris.
“Todd’s fine!” they go. There is much relief and EMS send the fire fighters home. Dano is given my number. He uses my second phone to call since one call is all my handsets can manage.
Moments after I try calling Dano’s cell my phone rings with my own number on the display. I answer and have a short conversation with Dano and Mike the EMT. “I’m fine!” I tell them. I apologize to the EMT for the false alarm. I say thank you to the EMT.
I post on Facebook. “I’m fine!” I call my folks. “I’m fine.” Then I head into work for the day.
The third time it went off that day was on purpose. I asked Robin to test the range between the base set and my car just to confirm my hypothesis that it was sitting in my vehicle that triggers it.
“I’m fine. Just doing my monthly test of the unit,” I tell a small lie when they respond to the signal. The monthly test is due on Sunday, but I figure that the two previous alarms that day proved the set was working fine.
Anyway, thank you to everyone who was impacted by the call. EMS, fire, Dano, Silvestris, Robin. Especially Dan. Thank you for coming over quickly. Thank you for getting here in time that fire didn’t break down my door. Thank you for leading them up promptly. Thank you for helping!
Next time I promise to actually be in trouble.