Tiny tracker with a panic button could save lives
MedicAlert’s GPS + Essential device tracks wandering patients and special needs children
When I was a cop in the 1980s, manhunts for Alzheimer’s patients who had gone off on their own were fairly common. In the winter, the search was a race to find them before they died from exposure. As the baby boomer generation ages, this is going to be an increasingly frequent emergency.
A new product from MedicAlert may help mitigate that problem — not only for the families who will almost surely pay fifteen bucks a month to ensure the safety of their family members, but also for the officers who risk their lives to find at-risk persons.
The MedicAlert Foundation has done good works for more than 50 years, supplying distinctive bracelets and neck chains bearing emblems to alert first responders of special medical problems. Their latest product is more high-tech and has special interest for first responders who deal with people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and for children at unusual risk.
GPS + Essential
The person who has the access password for the GPS + Essential device account can log in via website, smartphone, or tablet and see the device’s last known location. On command, the network can “ping” the device and have it transmit an updated location. Users can also set a boundary or “fence” for that account, and be notified if the device leaves the boundary. This is valuable for Alzheimer’s patients who wander off, or for children who either go off on their own or are in danger of being abducted.
The GPS + Essential also has a “panic button” that will send an alert to emergency contacts and MedicAlert’s emergency response center when held down for three seconds or more. The prolonged interval is to guard against accidental alerts. On receipt of a panic button press or if the device leaves the established boundary, text and email messages are sent to the emergency contacts for that device.
The MedicAlert emergency response center also ensures the emergency contacts are notified of the alert. If they cannot reach the emergency contacts, MedicAlert notifies local law enforcement for that area.
Battery life for the device is four to seven days, depending on how often the device is set to transmit its location without a prompt. The transmit interval is variable between five and 30 minutes. The internal battery recharges in about three hours.
The GPS + Essential sells for $99, and has a monthly service fee of $14.95.
Range of Services
The emblems are stainless steel (other metals are available) and close to indestructible. If I’m ever found incapacitated, any hospital or first responder can call the 800 number on the emblem, give them the engraved member number, and obtain all of my emergency contact information, the name and phone number of my physician, the medications I take, and other critical information I update from time to time via the MedicAlert website.
There are many copycat jewelry items sold that display the wearer’s medical problem, but none offer the range and depth of services that MedicAlert does. Their monitoring center, staffed 24 hours a day, answers over 5,000 emergency calls each year.
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