It is somewhat appropriate that the pendant panic button, the preferred or industry standard location for medical alarm system’s primary panic button, is in fact hanging by a thread around the users neck. In the event of a fall, or any emergency, that button could well prove to be your life saver. So the expression, “Your life is hanging by a thread” seems quite fitting in this scenario. The pendant, or necklace panic button is what this industry is mostly identified by and it could well be seen as the proverbial face of the medical alert system industry.
Looking back at the history of the industry though, you’ll fund that the original medical alert accessory was actually a medical alert bracelet – still a very popular choice among users.
The History Behind the Medical Alert Necklace
The origins of all medical alarm systems can be traced back to Dr M. Collins and Ms Chrissie Collins way back in the fifties when they reacted to a near fatal incident involving their daughter’s allergies and a bad reaction to a common tetanus shot. That incident spawned MedicAlert, the world renowned alert system using personal medical ID necklaces with vital information on it pertaining to the wearer’s medical information. In fact, it could be said that that incident was a mere catalyst, with the main inspiration or core idea coming from the army’s dog tag concept, but simply modifying it to suit ordinary citizens with distinctive medical needs or conditions. The information on that tag and the MedicAlert system as a whole has saved countless lives simply by ensuring that the personal and unique needs of that patient is taken into consideration and seen to.
This system has spread across many countries and language barriers to form an indispensable part of the international medical fraternity. Since its inception, the medical alert necklace has inspired many variations as well as enhancements to cater for a variety of fields and scenarios, most notably, the medical alarm systems’ pendant panic button.
Different types of Alert Jewelery
Since the initial plain engraved stainless steel version, there have subsequently been a number of modifications and variations, adapting the original model. Some have been born out of convenience while others were developed to compensate for things like language barriers. Others still were developed with less practical notions in mind, tending more towards the aesthetic side of things with a decidedly fashionable sense incorporated into their design. The industry has expanded vastly to include different types, styles and makes, some even with their own sub categories.
Of course you get several types of medical alert jewelery; the necklace, the wristband/bracelet/watch and the rare belt clip-on device (though this is more common for the electronic alert button of medical alarm systems). Needless to say that there’s also the differentiation that needs to be made between medical alert pendants (which are electronic devices with panic buttons) and the conventional medical alert ID tag with all the users vital medical information.
The styles differ enormously, from materials used to the actual design concept of the necklace. Things like tags which mimic guitar picks or army dog tags are common place in society nowadays. ID tags have also been fashioned to appear like normal jewelery just like a heart shaped silver pendant (even the popular charm bracelets with an unobtrusive medical alert tag) or the gold variety which appears like any other piece or accessory. Watchmakers have also gotten in on the market designing their products as usual, only with the availability of a customizable base (the metal disk that makes contact with your skin) which can act as a medical alert ID tag.
There’s also an associated industry for unique new and popular alert pendants like the USB, SOS talisman and capsule pendants. These typically contain all the wearer’s vital medical information. Whereas the USB contains them in electronic files whilst the latter two are decidedly more old fashioned; usually a small and sturdy container (heat resistant and waterproof) housing strong paper with your medical details written on it. The talisman model is known to have the patients details inscribed in a number of different languages and is thus recognized and world renowned.
Typically, every medical alert necklace or medical ID necklace is recognizable by the trademark snake twirled around the staff symbol.
The need for an Alert Necklace
With the initial plan involving people with special medical needs and conditions, the medical fraternity quickly realised that there are other patients who could benefit from the alert tag. The list of medical conditions requiring special treatment and consideration in the event of an emergency is quite lengthy and involves the following:
- People suffering from chronic illnesses or conditions like diabetes, epilepsy as well as asthma sufferers.
- People with unseen disabilities or deficiencies which affect their everyday lives, like heart conditions or those who’ve undergone serious surgeries like hip and knee replacements as well as organ implants or transplants.
- Individuals who possess rare blood types – like those with AB positive or negative.
- Those with severe allergies
- In the cases of general ID where the wearer may be a person with special needs and are unable to care for themselves, or perhaps a senior with Alzheimer’s or someone with brain damage.
The Medical Alert Necklace for Seniors
As mentioned, the MedicAlert bracelet has spawned several variations; and one of the most recognizable is the pendant panic button. In the event of any emergency, everyone practically everywhere has been led to contact 911 – that usually being the first instinct and course of action. There are times though when even that is a challenge, perhaps the pendant wearer has fallen, lying there, unable to move, or at least get to a telephone. So, even that simple action can prove too much for some, especially in the case of a senior who is too frail and has little or no strength to be able to call for help.
Studies have been carried out and indicated that a very large percentage of seniors fall at least once a year beyond a certain age, and for those wanting a bit of independence, this statistic will surely be discouraging. This is why the pendant has become so popular, as a simple push of the panic button will alert emergency contacts via the installed in-home console, within a few seconds; this will occur regardless if the victim is even able to relay the nature of their condition or problem.
Many pendants on the market come with a telephonic capability, meaning that they act as rudimentary but highly effective mobile phones as well. Diabetics, who are prone to falling, are customary users of this device, but the necklace offers other advantages, providing cover for ordinary in-home emergencies or even extreme situations like dangerous and unforeseen weather conditions, extreme temperatures (heat stroke) or fire emergencies. Stroke sufferers will no doubt also find the pendant a very helpful device.
The evolution of the pendant
Although the original MedicAlert bracelets and necklaces are prevalent the world over, sometimes even in their original guise circa the 1950’s and 60’s, the modern medical alert necklace may look a lot different, especially when looking at the medical alarm system industry.
Time and necessity has resulted in the medical alert necklace being something of a small electronic wonder. Standard features for a senior’s pendant include:
- an illuminated panic button
- phone answering capability, making it a mini mobile phone so long as you stay within the transmitter range, which varies per make
- the device is fully waterproof
In addition to those features you might find some exceptional makes with advanced capabilities such as GPS tracking or locators and temperature sensing (to monitor conditions and alert the monitoring respondents in instances of dangerous and extreme weather conditions or more likely, the event of a fire). Lastly there’s the rare and much sought after fall detection technology, which can not only sense the occurrence of a fall but also the size and nature of the impact – the Philips lifeline device is the only one with this technology and it will automatically send a signal to the monitoring facility, regardless of whether or not the stricken senior is able to do so on their own strength.
Jewelery with a Difference
Whichever your preference or necessity, the medical alert necklace remains – and will for a long time in some form or another – a vital tool of the medical fraternity within the public. The industry itself is purely targeted at saving lives and preventing fatal disasters which can occur so quickly and in some cases unconsciously, like that famous incident back in ’56 involving the Collins’s.
The bottom line is that it’s geared toward caring for loved ones and ensuring that those that need special care and treatment receive it, whether they be a child, senior or anyone with a disability, illness or rare medical condition; the medical alert necklace is a life saver.