Medic Alert vs Medical Alerts - Understanding the Differences

August is recognized as Medic Alert month. A key to this distinction is the shiny silver Medic Alert bracelet seen on thousands of wrists that informs everyone of potentially life-threatening allergies or medical conditions.


The concept was first introduced in 1956 by Marion and Chrissie Collins.



The story goes, Dr. Marion Collins’ daughter pricked her finger. She was taken to a hospital, where she had a violent reaction to a small amount of tetanus antitoxin and spent three days in an oxygen tent because of an allergic reaction. Her father, a physician like his own father, sought to protect her afterward by pinning a piece of paper to her clothing that said, ''Fatally allergic to tetanus antitoxin.''


Tens of millions of people now wear a Medic Alert bracelet, and over the years, the styles and colors available have expanded tremendously, making them quite fashionable. The technology has drastically changed and improved since its early days. There are now pendants and watches, and soon there will be systems that do not require a pendant, bracelet, or wristband.


Not to be confused with Medic Alert, Medical Alert Systems are available but operate differently from a Medic Alert bracelet. The Medical Alert System was created in the early 1970s by Wilhelm Hormann. Hormann wanted a system to relay urgent biomedical data and social communication. In 1975, American International Telephone Corporation, a California based company, offered the first medical alert system, which was a pendant a person wore, and when in distress, the person could push a button to call a set of preprogrammed phone numbers. In the 1980s this alert system became well known by its marketing tag: I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.


The Medic Alert bracelet is great if you are out in public and have a medical emergency. The Medic Alert ID provides visual notification alerts to first responders and others that you have a medical condition. The Medic Alert Foundation offers secure maintenance of your medical data and can provide it to emergency medical services or hospitals on your behalf, should they need it when treating you.


Medical alert systems provide protection when no one is around to lend a hand. They help individuals maintain their quality of life while reassuring their families that they are safe.


These systems are separated into two major categories: In-the-Home and On-the-Go. Some of the features and benefits of the systems include:


In-the-Home

Ideal for those who may live alone or are homebound, or anyone needing a little extra protection when at home

  • Works with a traditional landline or cellular service

  • Waterproof

  • Available Fall Detection

  • Available 24/7 Emergency Help

On-the-Go

  • Watches or Pendants

  • GPS location

  • Apps for locating a loved one

  • Water Resistant

  • Works anywhere in the US

  • Available Fall Detection

  • Available 24/7 Emergency Help

Before purchasing either a Medic Alert or a Medical Alert, it’s always best to discuss the situation with your loved ones, care manager, or an expert in the field.


The Medic Alert Foundation is a non-profit organization and a great resource with helpful information when deciding which Medic Alert bracelet or pendant is right for you.