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Changing the way people cry "Help!" (cellular emergency call boxes)

The mobility, portability, and ease of installation of cellular emergency call boxes are changing the way Americans cry "Help!" They are allowing emergency response teams to be in constant communication with people needing assistance, no matter how remote the area from which they are phoning.

Cellular call boxes are being put in areas where installation costs have prohibited the utilization of hardwire call boxes. These include cities where concrete increases installation expense, thus precluding hardwire phones, and rural areas where existing phone lines are inaccessible. With the elimination of phone line and installation limitations, more calls for help can be placed and public emergency personnel can be more effective. Cellular call boxes also are benefiting ski resorts and private and Federal organizations--such as universities, parks, and recreational areas--that are responsible for security within a large geographical area and can not incur the costly installation of hardwire call boxes across that expanse.

Cellular call boxes can be installed immediately without costly digging and trenching. Moreover, as traffic patterns change, the devices can be moved to a new location in just minutes.

Unlike hardwire call boxes, installation does not require wire to be laid or ground to be cleared. Instead, each call box easily is mounted on a pole and immediately ready for use. Additionally, since cellular call boxes are not dependent on a wire connection, the risk of them being disabled is greatly reduced.

Running on cellular signals, the call box phones report to a computerized monitoring station operated by emergency personnel. Because communication is two-way, the monitoring center can dispatch the appropriate personnel--police, fire, ambulance, or towing service--while maintaining contact with the caller. Each solar-powered cellular call box contains a back-up battery system that ensures communications even during prolonged periods without sun. It can report its own problems as well. Using advanced internal diagnostics, the call box reports any malfunction or damage to the monitoring center when it occurs, thus minimizing maintenance required. Special programming also instructs call boxes to report their operational status at specified intervals.
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:May 1, 1993
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