Fridays with Phyllis Vol. 2: “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

A couple housekeeping vernonia

  1. Some of you have been so kind to share your memories of mom and have asked that I say hello, etc. Thank you so much. But some of you have signed in as anonymous, and I can’t for the life of me figure out who you are.   Would love to pass on your sentiments to Phyllis so if you don’t mind, leave your name or a way for me to identify who you are to Phyllis. If you are concerned about being public, please feel free to contact me by email, Really, thank you so much.
  2. I apologize ahead for the lengthiness of this one, but as you will see, some times takes a little longer to tell the whole story. Future ones will be shorter, I promise.

And now…..Vol. 2 of Fridays with Phyllis:“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

It was in the late 1980’s, the first rumblings of the world wide web, ah the internet, the end of the cold war, the Berlin wall coming down, the bay area earthquake at the world series, and I recall as if it were yesterday, the TV ad with the elderly woman in her home, on the floor, yelling, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  That was my introduction to the world of Life Alert, Alarm Alert, Medic Alert.

Fast forward a couple decades, and I’m quite happy to share with you that Phyllis is “fairly” faithful in keeping her “Alert” necklace close by her side or around her neck.   It wasn’t long ago, in the interest of saving money (a subject for a future blog) that she thought she would give a different company a try.   The company she had subscribed to for years worked great but this other company seemed to offer the same services for a few dollars less each month. And as Phyllis will tell you, those few dollars add up over the years.

The new device arrived on a Friday afternoon.   Mom invited me over to go through the directions and set it up with her. After just a little over an hour we had it all set up and even tested it out with the monitoring dispatcher to make sure all was operational. If the necklace monitor should ever be activated by pressing it or by a sudden movement, as with a fall, the company activates the speaker on the monitor that she is wearing as well as on the external separate speaker near the phone.   A voice asks if mom is ok and is she in need of assistance.   The company had us do a trial run that evening so that mom would know just exactly what would happen.

I was listed with the company as a back up contact if the alarm was triggered and mom wasn’t responding. I don’t think I quite made it all the way back to my house before I got my first call from the “alert” company, letting me know the mom’s alarm had gone off and she had not responded.   I returned to mom’s house happy to find that mom was fine, there was thankfully no emergency, and that mom had accidentally engaged the necklace alarm by simply bumping into the counter top. She did not hear the “dispatcher” come on and ask if she was ok (most likely a hearing aid issue, but again, a story for a future blog). Together we worked on adjusting the length of the necklace but I could tell mom was starting to have her concerns with how easy it was activate the alarm. We agreed to give it a week and see how it goes.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon. I’m at my office and I receive another call from the alarm company. They have informed me that the alarm has been activated, they have been unable to contact mom but they have been able to track, the GPS on the monitor and have located her to be at the Cornelius Post Office. They have notified local emergency services and they were on their way to the location. It took me a minute to gather my wits and I called our local county dispatch to see if I could possibly get an update on their current call to the Cornelius Post Office.   They were very kind, took my number, and promised to get back to me with any information they could share.

As that was happening, my other phone is ringing. It was my younger brother Bart, who was also on the call list of emergency numbers. He had gotten a call as well. He hadn’t gotten any details, only that mom’s emergency alert had been activated and there was no response. He works near mother’s house so he drove up to investigate. Sure enough, mom’s car was gone. I shared with him what was going on and he decided that he would drive into the Cornelius Post office and check it out. On his way to town a County Sherriff patrol car, lights flashing, sirens blaring, was headed out of town, and Bart was pretty sure where he might be headed.

Let’s fast forward just a little bit… it takes awhile, but I eventually am able to put the complete picture together.   Turns out that over the weekend, mom had activated the necklace on several occasions but did hear the dispatcher’s voice come over the speaker, “Mrs. Bass, are you ok? Do you need any assistance?”   Each time she assured them all was well.   Mom was becoming a little concerned that she might be reaching her monthly limit of “false alarms” and that soon she might start being charged. She decided this new system just wasn’t a good fit and she would go back to the old company. She put all the devices from the new company back into the box, wrapped it up, and took it to the Cornelius Post Office. Walking from her car to the post office, she hears a voice coming from inside the box, “Mrs. Bass, this is emergency alert, your alarm has been activated, are you OK? And do you need any assistance?” Mom, very calmly, replies into the box, “all is ok, sorry for the false alarm”.   I’m pretty sure at that point it must cross her mind that she hadn’t turned the alarm off. I’m sure she is thinking she could take the box back home, open it, turn the system off, re-box and then return to the post office? I know, seems like a lot of fuss. So, she decides to carry on to the post office. She pays for the return postage and is on her way to the local pharmacy for her next errand.

Now picture this if you can. The postal employee at some point tosses the box into an outgoing bin, activating the alarm. There is a voice coming from within the box at the bottom of the bin, “Mrs. Bass, this is emergency service, your alarm has been activated, are you OK? Are you in need of any assistance?” Upon no response from Phyllis, they call local emergency services and dispatch them to the post office. EMT’s have to drive right by the local pharmacy, where mom is picking up her prescription. My mother, being the compassionate person that she is, upon hearing the sirens, no doubt offers up a prayer to our heavenly Father to assist those who must be in such need.

Now, once the emergency services arrive at the Post Office, and finding no emergency, they dispatch a Washington County patrolman to mom’s house, which is where Bart has returned. The officer, who happens to be the same officer that assisted mom when she rolled her van in a ditch on the way to church a year prior to this, and miraculously suffered only a scratch (another blog for later) replied, “So, she’s still driving”.

Till Next time, and remember….”might need a little salt”.

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2 Responses to Fridays with Phyllis Vol. 2: “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh my gosh, you paint a great picture, I have gone through the process and the one thing that comes to mind is what an amazing woman your mother is and how lucky she is to have such watchful loving people in her life, she appears to be reaping the love and care she has shown all of you!
    As always, give her hugs from the Riendeau’s

  2. Ellie Bass says:

    Loved this, Fred!!! You did a great job in describing this new “adventure” in my wonderful sister-in-law’s life! Love you all!!!
    Aunt Ellie

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