How Your Cell Phone Can Save Your Life


It was heart disease that changed my life, when it took the life of my grandfather, when I was a child. His skin was cold to my touch when I went to give him his medicine at 2:00 am. It is likely that either you personally or someone you know has been diagnosed with or affected by some type of heart condition.

Today, as an adult, heart disease is changing my life again.

My husband has coronary artery disease and has had two stents put in to keep open the arteries that provide blood and oxygen to his heart muscle. I am a nurse who specialized in cardiac care and am especially alert to any physical changes my husband might be experiencing. However, there is always that underlying fear of what will happen to him next.

My fears are lessened because, unlike some adult family caregivers, I know what to do and what changes to watch for. Knowledge is truly powerful and needed. Thankfully, there is always something new to learn!

Since the effects of heart conditions can be unexpected, being prepared is key to reducing stress and fear.

I recently learned about the importance of enabling your cell phone, and that of your family member with a heart condition, to track your location. Without that, if someone dials 911 and is unable to give the address, there is no way for the 911 dispatcher to locate the caller! The sooner first responders are able to reach someone in need of emergency care, the better the outcome can be.

So today, reduce your heart fears. Check your cell phones to make sure the location capabilities are activated. This one simple action can make a huge difference for you and your loved one in an emergency, no matter how old you are!

Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD has a broad background in health care and a dedication to diminishing caregiving ramifications for family caregivers of all ages. Her passion led to the establishment of a nonprofit that evolved from supporting homebound adults and caregiving families to become the American Association for Caregiving Youth.

American Assoc. for Caregiving Youth

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If you have enhanced 911 service (I thought everyone did by now) your land-line phone will relay your location to the dispatcher, and many land-line phones are designed with big buttons, one button dialing and other enhancements to accommodate disabilities and are easier for seniors to manipulate. Your cell is great if you are out and about, but even with tracking capabilities routing your 911 call to the correct dispatch is not always guaranteed, as some residents of border cities have discovered.
I refuse to give up my landline. Anyone coming into the house to visit can find a landline phone in just about every room of my home quicker than they could find their own cellphone, if they even have one. Seconds count.

When one dials 911 from a landline the emergency dispatch center sees your address on their screen the second they answer your call. Thus the EMTs are are on their way to your home while you are still on the phone with dispatch.

If I only had my sig other's cellphone to call 911, I would be totally lost on how to use it because it is so different from my cellphone. Some people have their cellphones password locked so what good would that be. At least with a landline, we all grew up knowing how to dial the number.
Having your location available on your cell phone is a good idea and it could be a lifesaver if you are out and about with no other means of communications. However, in addition to what freqflyer and cwillie said, consider what often happens when there is a storm or other interruption in cell service. A corded telephone may be the only functioning device in the entire house. There should be at least one telephone attached to its base by an old-fashioned cord to ensure that you can call 911 or communicate with others in an emergency. There was one time we were not able to use our land line during a power outage. We found out later that the phone company's emergency back-up power became disabled, but that is rare.