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Rescu, an app-based mobile PERS solution, was rolled out nationwide earlier this year and enables users to communicate non-verbally with emergency dispatchers.
(Image courtesy Rescu)

7-9-21 – SIW – Rescu looks to untether PERS users from hardware via its app-based solution

For years, personal emergency response systems or PERS, for short, have been one of the bedrock offerings of alarm monitoring firms. But unlike many other residential security technologies that have been virtually transformed by the rise of smart home solutions, PERS has remained relatively unchanged.

Of course, advances in mobile communications means that consumers are now oftentimes able to take their PERS device – typically a pendant or other wearable tech – with them on the go via a mobile PERS (mPERS) offering rather than having to be tethered to their homes as was customary with traditional, landline-based PERS.

There also remains a sizeable market for both traditional PERS and mPERS in the U.S. According to a report published last year by Parks Associates, more than five million U.S. consumers are expected to own PERS devices by 2021,

But for all the innovation that has been brought to PERS and the residential security market generally over the last decade, nearly every PERS solution on the market still requires that the consumer leverage some type of hardware platform. Rescu, an app-based solution that can be used to quickly dispatch police, fire, and medical services, is looking to change that.

The app, which was rolled out nationwide earlier this year and enables users to communicate non-verbally with dispatchers, has thus far partnered with more than 30,000 local emergency agencies. Rescu is the brainchild of Paolo Piscatelli, the company’s founder and CEO, whose family has owned and operated California-based alarm monitoring provider Alarm Relay and systems integration firm Watchlight Corporation for nearly 50 years.

Piscatelli says he was motivated to create the app after his father suffered a medical emergency several years ago and had trouble speaking to dispatchers.

“It was just a very terrible experience, and it took over 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. He had a diverticulitis-type pain in his abdomen, and it inhibited him from communicating effectively and it also inhibited 911 and EMS to show up in a timely fashion,” he explains. “Being a UL-certified, five-diamond emergency monitoring center… we hadn’t had these types of experiences when we were dispatching on PERS alarms, hold-ups, and all of these different signals. We’re saying, ‘what gives here, because we’re giving our (customers) a much better experience.’”

After exploring the issue further, Piscatelli says they realized that calling 911 can be a very different experience depending on where you are in the country and oftentimes the caller also must answer so many questions that they commonly end up repeating themselves. With Rescu, all the user’s information is pre-programmed into the app, and they can summon help with just two taps on the screen of their mobile device.

Piscatelli says that Rescu is essentially a mobile PERS solution, but that that price – starting at $5 a month – makes it more accessible to larger number of consumers. Additionally, unlike making a traditional 911 call where the user can only communicate with local first responders or the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), Rescu enables consumer to have emergency services dispatched remotely to their residence no matter where they may be geographically at the time.

“I was actually travelling on a business trip once in Louisville (Ken.) and my wife thought there was someone breaking into our house – turned out it was just a racoon jumping over from a cypress tree to our roof – but I opened the app, hit police and with two taps within five minutes I was watching police jump my gate on our cameras,” Piscatelli adds.  

And although Rescu removes the absolute necessity of verbal communication, Piscatelli says users can still choose to call and speak with a dispatcher through the app after the request for help has been made. “The other thing you can do is chat with a live dispatcher, so you can provide non-verbal one-way commands, you can chat, or you can call; whatever works best for you,” he says.  

The deaf community has also really embraced the app, according to Piscatelli, given some of the inherent challenges they have in communicating with emergency dispatchers.

“People always say they, ‘oh, they have TTY (teletype) and all that stuff.’ Well, I got to be honest with you, a) not every 911 jurisdiction AHJ is equipped to do that and b) if they are, there are a lot of deaf folks that have better tools than TTY themselves,” he explains. “What we are finding out is a lot of them don’t have text-to-911 options and they are having to have translators translate to 911 through a video service. I mean, that’s insane.”

Given the capabilities provided to consumers via Rescu, the company has also received inquiries from the providers of various do-it-yourself and self-monitored security systems to have the app serve as a remote dispatch option for intrusion alarms.

“I’ve met with quite a few manufacturers who seem to be interested, but their roadmaps are taking them in different directions, so it just depends on where they are at,” Piscatelli says. “But it works very well with that technology, and we’ve got a couple of smoke detector manufacturers looking at us. From a PERS perspective, it’s very disruptive.”

About the Author: 

Joel Griffin is the Editor of SecurityInfoWatch.com and a veteran security journalist. You can reach him at joel@securityinfowatch.com.