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7 Reasons Why Using a Personal Alarm is Better than Dialling 999 in an Emergency

29 October 2012
 October 29, 2012
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Since 1976, the whole of the United Kingdom has had access to the emergency services for urgent assistance, enabling users to quickly summon the Police, Fire Brigade and Ambulance (amongst other specialist services) by dialling 999 on any telephone.

The 999 emergency telephone system is an efficient way of calling for help, but worryingly, current budget cuts threaten the service and response time targets have been extended.

In an emergency, saving minutes, and even seconds, can be the difference between life and death.

In recent times, personal safety services (such as Skyguard) have come to prominence in helping to protect lone workers and those who face increased risk of injury, assault or illness. Using hand-held personal alarms or Smartphone applications, with one-button alarm activation, audio communication and GPS locating technology, these services are proven to cut response times in the event of an incident compared to using the 999 system.

Here’s why we believe using a personal alarm with one button alarm activation is better than dialling 999.

999 operators don’t know who is calling, where they are or why they have called.

When dialling 999, the operator will not have any information regarding your emergency. They won’t know who is calling, what the problem is and the location of the incident. All of this has to be verbally relayed to the operator for them to ascertain an appropriate response… all of which takes time (and providing the caller can convey the problem).

When answering an alarm, a personal safety service provider will immediately know who it is, where they are, and precisely what they want done in the event of an incident. This is because each personal alarm is assigned to a dedicated user or account. As soon as the alarm button has been pressed, all information on this user is displayed to a controller in an alarm receiving centre, detailing their personal details (including medical conditions), their current location and escalation instructions. No time is wasted on conveying this information.

With a personal safety alarm, there’s no need to explain your situation to the 999 operator first.

Personal safety services that are fully accredited to BS 8484 often have the authorisation to contact Police control rooms directly. This avoids having to explain the situation to the 999 operator first and then waiting for the call to be transferred to the local police operator.

Pressing an alarm button is quicker.

Dialling 999 and speaking to an emergency service operator requires more time and effort than simply activating an alarm button on your phone or personal safety device.

Callers to 999 often cannot convey accurate information about their situation.

This is either as a result of panic, fear, pain or distress. Personal safety services ensure the emergency services have all the details about an incident, whilst professionally taking out the emotion of the situation. Controllers at the alarm receiving centre can also make the emergency services aware of special circumstances including existing medical conditions.

You cannot dial 999 in advance.

Personal safety services, including Skyguard, allow users to notify us in advance if they are entering a dangerous or threatening situation. This can be done in several different ways: – by leaving a voice memo (Amber Alert) message giving details of who you are meeting and where you are going, or by raising an alarm and asking the controller to stay on the line until you are safe, or summon help should an incident arise.

999 operators will only report details of an incident to the emergency services.

Some personal safety services will not only contact the emergency services, but will also call colleagues, friends or family and follow the user’s specific instructions left when they signed up for the service. With Skyguard, details can be updated by the user in real-time 24/7, and changed as often as necessary.

With 135,491 hoax calls to emergency services in 2008-09*, hoax calls are a real problem for 999 operators.

Personal safety services help take some of the pressure off the service; our own experience from working with our police customers over many years has allowed us to develop our controller training and procedures in order to minimise false alarms.

(*as defined within the national incident category list (NICL) for 2008-09 and confirmed by Alan Johnson, Home Secretary in response to a question from Chris Grayling MP on 10th March 2010).

One response on “7 Reasons Why Using a Personal Alarm is Better than Dialling 999 in an Emergency

  1. Raymond Torres says:

    That was a great article about personal alarms vs dialing 999 or in the us 911. I think the personal alarm is a much better system since reading your information thanks.

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