A common question we hear from callers is whether there is a GPS-enabled medical alert system. These services are not widely available and though they can be beneficial for some, it is not necessarily the correct solution for everyone.
The medical alert industry has not widely adopted the GPS-enabled systems. One of the biggest reasons is its limitations that make finding a person in need difficult to locate. For example, if you live on the top floor of a five-story building and rely on GPS to be found, these systems allow EMT’s and other emergency responders to detect a general area but not your precise location. In a medical emergency, much time could be wasted trying to locate someone going room to room and floor to floor. This precious time becomes especially important when seconds count!
Many individuals feel that the GPS technology is the answer to the concern of medical issues or falling when out in public, such as a mall. However, in those instances, an individual is usually surrounded by many other people who can alert EMT’s in the event of an emergency. GPS technology relies on satellite services and if you’ve ever tried to use your cell phone in a mall, you know that it can be difficult to get a signal.
GPS technology currently has limitations that include:
- Not Waterproof: This is a serious concern, particularly since many falls in the home occur in the bathroom and shower.
- Inability To Identify Location With Detailed Accuracy: GPS technology is limited to locating the address, not the floor or individual room a person is in. In the event that your loved one pushes a button that uses GPS technology, emergency responders would have to search multiple floors and rooms before finding the person. Furthermore, emergency personnel must also determine the exact location as well as which responders are responsible to handle a specified area.
- Limited Coverage Area: GPS-enabled devices rely on cellular signals in order to work. Areas with varying, weak or no signal at all can leave the user unable to reach help when most needed.
- Requires Charging: GPS-enabled devices must be charged. Some systems can take as much as eight hours to charge during which you would have no protection. LifeFone’s base unit works with electricity as well but has a back-up battery that provides up to 32 hours of protection until your power returns.
- Increased Cost: GPS is a technology that relies on satellites and typically raises costs for seniors. When adding any other features to the product, costs generally rise without the guarantee of improved response times.
Until such time that GPS technology confidently provides a reliable solution LifeFone has elected not to offer GPS-enabled medical alert systems. LifeFone continually evaluates new technologies to improve alert systems and provide the most timely and reliable service for our customers.
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