Falls, entanglements and heart attacks are just the beginning of what can go wrong when you're out in the field alone. As farms become bigger and more mechanized, help can be further away than ever. Even if you have a cell phone, just try telling an emergency worker how to find a remote corner of a field. It's hard enough if you're not injured.
The answer to this dilemma may be one of the new Rescue 911 cell phones. These phones make it easier to get help, sometimes at a cost that is lower than that of a full-featured cell phone and its obligatory two-year service contract.
The Magnavox MobilePAL is the first emergency wireless phone and service to provide nationwide caller location to emergency services (fire, police, ambulance) and all levels of public service. The phone uses GPS satellites to pinpoint a caller's location. Instead of a dial pad, it has one large, red CALL button, making it easier for injured, trapped or sick callers to activate it.
Pressing the red button turns on the phone and places a call to the Personal Assistance Link (PAL) Monitoring Center. The center has operators, or “personal assistants,” on call 24/7, who can remotely activate the phone's GPS feature. The phone transmits data that pinpoint the caller's location to the PAL center. The personal assistant immediately locates the nearest emergency services and gives emergency personnel the caller's location. The personal assistant can initiate a three-way call, if needed. As rescue workers get closer, the phone's alarm button can help pinpoint the caller's location with sound. Mobile PAL+ GPS retails for $129.95. MobilePAL personal security service plans vary, with basic GPS service starting at $9.95/month.
Basic MobilePAL without GPS costs $79.95. It includes one-button 911 calling, free roadside assistance, directions to hospitals and a 95-dB alarm. Various monthly plans are available.
With a price of $49.95, the Motorola 650 flip phone is the least expensive 911 emergency cell phone. It makes free emergency 911 cell phone calls and has no GPS function. However, with its full keypad, it can make non-emergency credit card and collect calls in most areas. And there's no monthly service fee.
To order the MobilePAL or Motorola phones, visit www.911cellphones.com.
Still not cheap enough for you?
How about a disposable cell phone? Most of the disposable phones that show up at convenience store checkout counters will be able to make calls but not receive them. A slightly higher-end $40 disposable cell phone called the Cyclone can send and receive calls using prepaid minutes — no contracts or credit cards required. The phone can be recharged with new minutes or recycled. Look for the Cyclone at retail outlets or visit www.cyclonephone.com.
The Achilles' heel of any emergency cell phone is that it still requires the lone victim to press a button. That's not much help for someone who's unconscious or can't reach the phone. Enter the Digital Angel. This wristwatch-like device monitors the individual's heart rate and body temperature and registers any sudden, jarring falls. In the event that the system detects a health emergency, it can dial preprogrammed emergency numbers and pinpoint the victim's location with GPS. At its most deluxe, the Digital Angel can dial into the Internet and show the individual's location on an online map. Someone sitting at home could log on to check the person's location.
The Digital Angel costs $299 and requires a monthly fee of $29.95 or more, depending on features. To order it, log on to www.digitalangel.net or call Ovations International at 914/245-9721.