A medical emergency can happen any time, day or night. But when every minute matters, will you be able to dial for help?

Fortunately, one local company is helping to take away the worry for many Western New Yorkers.

“We give seniors that extra peace of mind, which can help them stay in their own homes and remain independent,” said Sheryl Maher, HomeHelpLine Manager for Rural/Metro Medical Services.

HomeHelpLine is the new personal emergency reporting system from Rural/Metro. Customers get a small transmitter box, plus a wristband or pendant to wear around the house. If they need help, they simply press a button anytime, 24 hours a day.

Within seconds of when the button is pressed, customers are automatically connected to a Rural/Metro dispatcher who can send an ambulance to the home. This dispatcher can also provide the medical team with potentially life-saving information about medications, allergies and health history. There is no need to call 911. In fact, Rural/Metro can even call family, friends or neighbors who are on the customer’s “emergency call” list.

“HomeHelpLine is dependable, affordable, and local,” said Maher. “There are lots of personal emergency systems out there, but we are the only ones with local, medically trained dispatchers from Rural/Metro Medical Services. Our dispatchers live here and work here. They’re the same people who dispatch our ambulances, so they know the local hospitals, and they know how to handle a medical emergency.” Other companies may send their calls out-of-state, to operators with no medical training.

The Rural/Metro service is designed for people with a history of falling, people who are recovering from surgery, and seniors who have been in the hospital recently. It is also popular with people who live alone or spend several hours alone (day or night), people with a serious medical condition or other physical challenges, and those who have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or arthritis.

The HomeHelpLine system – which is on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – was designed by a leading manufacturer to be simple and easy to use. “We call it `push-button peace of mind’ for our customers,” said Maher. “The main unit has really easy-to-see buttons. Everything is clearly labeled. Then, for around the house, you get a wristband transmitter you can wear like a watch, or a neck pendant that has a safety breakaway feature.” Both the wristband and neck pendant are water resistant.

Customers who sign up for HomeHelpLine do not have to buy any equipment or sign up for a long-term commitment. Instead, they pay a monthly fee advertised as less than $1 a day, which, as Maher notes, “makes HomeHelpLine very affordable for seniors and others on a fixed budget.”

HomeHelpLine installation is available 7 days a week, and can usually be installed within 48 hours of when someone places an order. “We understand that people who call us need HomeHelpLine installed as soon as possible,” said Maher. “A lot of times, that’s because they just had their first fall, or they’re getting out of the hospital. It’s not always something you can plan in advance.”

HomeHelpLine is installed by qualified service technicians. The system uses an electrical outlet and a standard home phone line, so no special equipment is required. A rechargeable back-up battery can power the unit if the electricity goes out.

Even though HomeHelpLine has only been available for a few months, it has already received a “very positive” reaction, according to Maher. Many Western New Yorkers have already signed up for themselves, or for a loved one who spends time home alone.

“There are definitely a lot of people who feel safer with HomeHelpLine,” noted Maher. She cited national statistics that show more than one-third of adults 65 and older suffer a fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls are also the most common reason seniors end up in the hospital for trauma.

Here in Western New York, the demand for HomeHelpLine is driven in part by a disproportionately older population, with more than 140,000 people 65 and older in Erie County alone. Maher noted that the number of seniors in Erie County has actually increased 3% in recent years – even as the overall population has declined by 5%.

People who sign up for HomeHelpLine can also add other popular services to the system, including smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, voice alarms, and activity timers that call HomeHelpLine if the customer does not “check in.” There is an additional fee for these options.

Rural/Metro has been serving the Western New York community for more than 50 years, and has achieved the highest national guidelines in the ambulance industry (only 1% of all ambulance services in the country meet this standard).

Customers who are interested in getting “push-button peace of mind” from HomeHelpLine can find more information at MyHomeHelpLine.com, or may call Sheryl Maher directly at 882-8400 extension 443, or toll free at 1-877-810-1555.