Nearly everyone has heard the famous phrase, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” As a matter of fact, this phrase is so well-known that most people automatically associate it with Life Alert. It’s a brilliant stroke of marketing, and arguably the reason why they handle a whopping two million calls each year. We definitely have Life Alert to thank for making medical alert systems so popular, but did you know that the medical alert system industry didn’t actually start with this popular company?
The very first medical alert system
A German man named Wilhelm Hormann is credited with creating the very first medical alert system in the early 1970s. It was meant to be a true medical device that could assist the elderly, disabled, sick, and even those who simply live alone. It was designed for general communication and the transmission of biomedical data for both ambulatory and non-ambulatory care. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the 1980s when Hormann’s dream was finally realized in Germany.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the American International Telephone Corp. had the same idea in 1975. This pendant was much simpler than Hormann’s. When pressed, it called a series of preprogrammed telephone numbers to get the wearer help. It wasn’t until the 1980s that trained operators came standard with each system.
Mrs. Fletcher and LifeCall
In the 1980s and early 90s, medical alert systems were beginning to enter cultural consciousness with Mrs. Fletcher who famously announced, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” in a commercial spot for LifeCall. Wait a minute… Isn’t that Life Alert’s famous line?
Well, LifeCall did it first. The company even attempted to trademark the line, but its status was cancelled in the 1990s. Meanwhile, Life Alert began using the slightly different line, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” It was trademarked in the early 2000s, as was the original line, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” and the rest is history.
From campy to educational
That original commercial by LifeCall is extremely memorable because it’s so campy. The acting is a bit uncomfortable and the image of Mrs. Fletcher laying on the floor shouting, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” has never been forgotten. The commercial has definitely earned a spot in pop culture history, but the message and importance of medical alert systems were lost in such a goofy commercial.
Life Alert has strived to do something different with the famous line. Instead of showing a cheesy, and arguably amusing, dramatization of a senior in need, the company took it one step further and really explained how a medical alert system works. Sure, that sweet little old lady who needs help is still often featured in commercials, but actual seniors go into detail about how the system works and exactly how it can save lives. Life Alert changed a silly joke into a serious medical device, paving the way for every medical alert system that has been created since. Check out some Life Alert reviews from people all over the world.