PERS call center nightmare

A horrific situation where the oft-derided PERS was used correctly in a textbook emergency situation (fall in shower); the call center operator responded with a phone call but after repeated presses of the pendant button, but perhaps no voice contact, failed to then notify emergency services.  An example of how technology can work perfectly, but when the human factors fail and minutes count, it is for naught.  Florida children suing California-based alert system over mother’s scalding death [Editor’s note:  In the article’s comments section, a reader makes the very salient point that the hot water heater should not have been set above 110 degrees F (about 43 degrees C); my research indicates that only 10 degrees F more will scald a child in 10 minutes.  However, this doesn’t mitigate the lack of immediate 911 contact by the call center in response to the repeated alarms, as advertised on the company’s website.]

[Editor’s update 14 Jan:  Trevor Cradduck’s comment led me back to the original article and it is ambiguous on whether voice contact was made.  The button was pressed repeatedly–at least eight times–and the daughter was called after ten minutes, which in a normal fall would have been plenty of time, but in this case not. So this should lead to an examination of the protocol. But rationally–eight presses, no voice contact–which can happen easily in a stroke–should result in a 911 call.

Another sad circumstance that points out that response is everything.  Pull cords–v.0 technology–two different ones pulled by an asthma sufferer living in a medically assisted senior housing apartment in Portland, OR.  No response.  Daughter finds him dead after 12 hours.  Another lawsuit.  Article.]

2 thoughts on “PERS call center nightmare

  1. PERS Call centre to blame?
    Reading the news report one is led to understand that the call centre acted strictly according to standard protocol. Their first response is to call back, when there is no answer they call a named responder then, failing a response they call 911. Keep in mind that the call centre has no idea whatsoever that the client is in a scalding hot shower – where the water temperature was set too high to begin with.

  2. PERS response – was it a failure?

    The client sets up the protocols the call center follows. The typical protocol is attempt voice contact, if no response, call twice allow ten rings then move to responder lists. I don’t think the accuracy of time elapsed is correct here.

    “About 10 minutes into the episode, Pifer said, the ResponseLink operator called her, and she got there in six or seven minutes. She immediately dialed 911, but by then her mother was too badly burned.”

    That’s the problem right there. Her protocol should of been no response over the unit or telephone-911 dispatch. Not the daughter when it’s an unknown alarm.

    False alarms of repeated activation is normal, mostly due to persons sitting or sleeping on the buttons. The operator can’t just “break protocol” and call 911 if repeated activations are received. The operator isn’t pyschic and just followed the protocol set up by the family.

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