As a dispatcher for Peoples Communications, Rhandi Fails regularly connects injured or disabled seniors with help through Peoples’ Emergency Alert System. But she found out just how important her job is on one of her days off. Fails got a call through the system from a fellow dispatcher informing her that her grandmother had fallen in the kitchen and activated her emergency alert pendant because she couldn’t get back up.
After she pressed the button on the pendant, dispatchers received the alert and started calling the emergency contacts listed on the grandmother’s account. Fails went to the home, where she and her father helped her grandmother to her feet. Luckily she was only bruised, but shaken.
“It upset her,” Fails says. “She was just thankful she had it. There was no way she could get herself back up.”The dispatcher’s family isn’t alone.According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three adults 65 or older will fall in a given year, and falls are the leading cause of injury and death among seniors. People who are older than 75 are four to five times more likely to fall than younger seniors. The CDC says even the fear of falling can cause some seniors to limit their activities, which can lead to reduced mobility and poor physical condition.
“As loved ones get older, they want to keep their independence, and who can blame them?” says Pam Darrow, engineering support and dispatch supervisor at Peoples. “Our Emergency Alert System allows them to keep that freedom, but gives them and their families the peace of mind to know that if they get in trouble, the system is there for them.”In addition to other service calls, Peoples dispatch team field about 100 emergency calls each year, which can be for everything from a fall, to seizures, to someone using the emergency system’s audible alarm to scare away a prowler. The system uses reliable technology and is constantly monitored to ensure its effectiveness.
“A lot of companies test their system once a month,” Darrow says. “We test ours every 24 hours.”
Fails says that peace of mind really matters when it’s your own loved one in trouble. “My grandmother was a little stubborn about getting and wearing one of the pendants,” Fails says. “After that day, she was glad she had it, and we were, too.”
FALLS by the numbers:
1 in 3 adults 65 or older fall each year
$30 billion Total fall-related medical costs across the U.S. in 2012
20-30% of fall victims suffer severe injuries such as cuts, hip fractures and head trauma
95% of hip fractures are caused by falls
2.5 million Number of falls in the U.S. in 2013 that were serious enough to require trips to the emergency room