AMHERST – It’s a serious situation. A senior woman in the area tried to activate her medical monitoring device to summon help, only no help came. There was no response because the monitoring company she had a contract with, JTF Alarms of Halifax, has ceased operations, according to police.
Const. Tom Wood, Amherst Police Department, is trying to get the word out: If you have a monitoring contract with JTF Alarms, that peace of mind device you wear around your neck won’t work.
Don Russell knows something about the subject. The Amherst Rotary club, of which he’s a member, voluntarily installs and services medical monitoring devices in our region. These devices are not monitored by JTF Alarms and they are not the devices police are warning consumers about.
“When you press (the button), you want to know that it’s going to be connected,” said Russell.
The Rotarian said there are about 60 people, from Joggins to Pugwash, the club helps. Those who have a device pay a $42 monthly fee to the service provider, Northwood (based in Halifax, and providing the service province-wide). The call centre is manned 24 hours a day by volunteers, according to Russell.
“Most of them are elderly,” he said of people with the devices.
“…Maybe live alone or might have difficulty in calling for help.”
Russell explained the technology the use. A waterproof button is worn around the neck. When pressed, it signals a box installed in the house to contact Northwood using the phone lines. The call centre volunteer then contacts help, such as a friend or adult child, according to the pre-agreed wishes of the user.
The buttons get pushed and the service is used, said Russell.
Northwood’s clients seem to be in good hands. JTF Alarm’s clients are not. They’re in no hands at all.
The Amherst Police Department has begun a fraud investigation into JTF Alarms’ failure to provide service, although Const. Wood could not say if criminal charges could be laid.
And what if the worst case happened? What if someone in dire need of help pressed their button, no one answered, and the person died? Wood said a situation like that could be explored as a criminal case.
Police do not know at this time how many area residents may have contracts with JTF Alarms.