What Happens After You Press Your Medical Alert Button?

Sasha Aparicio

Mar 30 2021

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The moment you’ve prepared for has come – you’ve tripped and hurt yourself, and now you’ve activated your medical alert device. What happens now? Who will receive your life alert? Who will they contact? How do they come to your aide?

Here, we give you a run-down of what exactly happens when you push your medical alert system button. When you know what to expect, you can feel confident activating the alert when you need help. You can rest assured and know that someone will be there to come to your aide.

How Medical Alert Systems Work: Step-By-Step

What happens after you or your loved one pushes the emergency alert button? Here is the step-by-step system most medical alert companies use.

1. Summon Help:

You activate your medical alert device.

Whether it is a button, a watch, a pendant, or a voice-activated medical alert device, most medical alert systems need the user to take action before connecting you to emergency operators. Make sure you know the exact options your life alert system has to communicate with the operator. Some may have a button, while others may have a button and a voice-activated option.

2. Your Information is Provided Automatically:

Emergency response hubs receive your information.

Once you’ve activated your medical alert device, emergency response hubs immediately receive an alert that you need help along with your information. The information operators receive includes your name, age, place of residence, and health conditions. They may also receive further information you have previously provided. Emergency response systems with integrated GPS, such as MobileHelp or MedicalAlert, will also send your location to emergency response hubs.

emergency call

3. Immediate Assistance:

You are connected to an emergency operator.

Within seconds, emergency operators will be in contact with you using the two-way communication system. Usually, you will be in contact with them directly on the emergency response device. It may be a pendant, watch, portable button, or a base unit in your home.

The operator will ask you to confirm your name and that you need help. They will then ask for details about what might have occurred. All this information will help them determine what kind of support you need. Often, they will stay in contact with you until the emergency response team has arrived.

If English isn’t you or your loved one’s first language, not to worry. Even though most top medical alert systems are based in the US, some emergency response hubs have operators who speak multiple languages.  MedicalAlert, for example, has operators available who speak over 140 languages.

What happens if you are unable to speak? Most medical alert systems have a protocol in place for times you push the button but cannot respond to their communication. Some will automatically dispatch an emergency response team or call your emergency contact.

4. Help Comes to You:

Operators dispatch an emergency response team or emergency contact.

Once you confirm that you need help, the emergency protocol based on your personal emergency care instructions is activated.

The emergency protocol is that which was established when you contracted the services. It might mean contacting a specific emergency service, a neighbor, or a family member. It might also contact several people at once, or the response may vary on a case-by-case basis.

A common concern when it comes to getting the help you need after you’ve activated your emergency alert system is ensuring the emergency response team can get to you quickly. If you have fallen or have been injured at home, it is unlikely that you will be able to open the door when the emergency response team arrives.

One option is to install a lockbox with a key to your home. You can provide the combination to the mobile alert emergency response team so they can access the key. MobileHelp provides lockboxes that are easy to use and that are programmed by you for ultimate safety.

If you are unsure of the emergency response protocol you have in place, or if you would like to change the contact information, you must get in touch with your emergency response provider.


Note: Emergency Response System Services Vary Between Brands

Here, we have summarized the general step-by-step process that most emergency alert systems use. You’ll get the support you need as fast as possible once you activate the life alert on your medical alert device.

However, it is essential to note that exact emergency response processes may vary slightly. Some of the differences between brands may be:

    • Response time: While all emergency response systems have 24-hour emergency response hubs, the time it may take someone to arrive at your home may vary.
    • 2-way communication device: It might be a pendant, a portable button, a watch, or a base unit.
    • GPS integration: Those with this feature will allow you to summon help, even when you are not home.

  • Emergency care and response instructions: When you sign up for a medical alert system service, they will offer you several choices regarding how they should respond to emergencies. Some companies may offer detailed personalization options.  You can update that information if you need to.
  • Additional features: Lockboxes, multiple devices, battery life, and portable charging options are all features that vary between medical alert devices. OneCallAlert and LifeFone, for example, offer lockboxes to allow emergency response teams to access your home.

It is essential to be aware of your medical alert device’s specific features and accompanying services. This way, you know how to summon help and what to expect between the time you activate the life alert and get the support you need.


By understanding what happens when you activate the life alert on your medical alert device, you can feel confident that you will get the help you need in the shortest amount of time possible. Keep in mind that, even though we have summarized the general step-by-step system medical alert companies use, the details and features may vary between companies.

If you have questions about the features, pros and cons, and response times of specific alert systems, check out our comprehensive product and service reviews here.

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