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Hays Medical Center Lifeline service now equipped with GPS
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Cathy Russell of HaysMed encourages central and western Kansas residents to consider Lifeline benefits.

   In the past, HaysMed Lifeline subscribers had to be at home or close to it to benefit from the service.

          But today’s subscribers can be anywhere in the United States and assured that help will arrive when needed, said Cathy Russell, HaysMed Lifeline coordinator.

          The service is now equipped with the Global Positioning System, more commonly known as GPS. It is available in many counties in central and western Kansas.

          “Lifeline is able to track you at or near your home, as well as throughout the country,” Russell said. “Whether you are in a rural community and your closest neighbor is 15 miles away, or you travel to another destination, Lifeline is at your fingertips.”

          Depending on the subscriber’s needs, Lifeline entails wearing a button around the neck or on the wrist. A press of the button alerts Lifeline, which then contacts a neighbor, family member or emergency services in a specific location – whichever the situation calls for.

          “There is no age limit to our service,” Russell noted. “We have had subscribers in their 20s and up to age 105. Any of us could find ourselves in a situation where we need help.”

          Russell cited an example of a local man who stayed in a Colorado hotel, and slipped and fell in the bathtub.

          “He had no way to call for help,” Russell said. “He had to wait for the maid to come. With our new GPS, this frightening situation wouldn’t happen.”

Prior to the GPS equipment, if someone was going to be away from home for any length of time, it was cumbersome to transfer the service to the new location. That is no longer necessary.

“We encourage families to consider this service, especially if there are aging parents involved,” Russell commented. “If parents shy away from the idea, their doctor may be able to convince them to subscribe.

“People of all ages are more mobile than ever before,” she continued. “They are not just sitting at home, which is why the GPS is so important.”

The Lifeline coordinator also noted that cell phones are not always the answer in an emergency situation.

“People tell me they don’t need Lifeline because they have a cell phone,” Russell said. “But they also tell me the phone is usually in the trunk of their car or not turned on.”

HaysMed Lifeline offers two types of service. One involves the basic button that a subscriber pushes; the other includes “auto alert.”

“Depending on the circumstances, the auto alert will automatically send for help,” Russell said. “If someone falls, it gives an individual about 30 seconds to recover. If they trip and get right back up, it would not activate.

          “However,” she continued, “if you take a tumble, and don’t get up or become unconscious, help will be on the way automatically.”

          Russell noted that whenever possible, the button should be pushed as an added precaution.

          A private individual started Lifeline in Hays in 1983. HaysMed acquired the service two years later. It contracts for equipment and service through Philips Lifeline, a well-respected company, Russell said.

          HaysMed Lifeline is available in these counties: Barton, Cheyenne, Decatur, Ellis, Ellsworth, Gove, Graham, Lane, Logan, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Pawnee, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stafford, Thomas, Trego and Wallace.