5Star Device Review SummaryThe Great Call Splash 5Star Urgent Response product is a compact-sized mobile alert pendant with GPS. It is provides seniors and other users with access to emergency alert monitoring both in and out of their homes, including traveling across town and further. The current version of the device is waterproof and offers the option of automatic fall detection alerts with a plan upgrade.
Important notice: As for 7/29/2016, the Great Call Splash 5Star Urgent Response product has been replaced by the new generation Lively Alert device. It’s smaller & lighter, and comes with all the features that the Great Call Splash has. For more information, please visit Great Call’s Official Website. You can also check out our detailed Lively Alert Review here.
The emergency pendant is small and handy. Users can carry it with them everywhere, at home or outside – shopping, running errands, taking a walk etc. When the user presses the emergency button, the system connects to the monitoring station through a cellular phone connection.
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Disclosure: We receive referral compensation for purchases made (see details).
Use This In & Out Of The Home – The handy Splash 5Star response device allows users to initiate wireless emergency calls both at home and outside – shopping, running errands, taking a walk etc.
GPS Tracking – This allows the monitoring agents to know the location of the user. Through a secure online connection, a web dashboard will share the GPS locator information with authorized users like the senior’s children or caregivers.
Waterproof – The pendant is waterproof and can be used in showers. This is an important feature as a lot of falls occur in slippery shower and bath areas.
Small, Stylish Pendant – The 5Star Urgent Responder pendant is small, handy and stylish looking. It can be attached to a keychain, handbag or worn with a lanyard around the neck.
No Phone Line Needed – The monthly service comes with a built-in cellular connection. Seniors do not need to subscribe to a home or cell phone line to use this.
Built-in Fall Detection Option – The Great Call Splash device comes equipped with automated fall detection. Users can access this feature anytime by getting on the Ultimate Plan ($34.99/mo).
Frequent Recharging – Daily recharging of the device is recommended. Home medical alert systems are plugged in to a power source and their pendants have long life batteries. They can run in the background without the need for frequent recharging.
Weight of Device – At 1.8 oz, the wearable Splash device is lightweight. However, it is still heavier than typical home medical alert pendants that weigh under 0.5 oz.
Good Verizon Reception Needed – The product is based on the Verizon cellular network. If the signal is weak, it will affect the emergency call connections.
Could Conflict With Pace Maker/ Embedded Medical Devices – If you wear a pace maker, defibrillator or other embedded medical device, please consult with a physician before using the Great Call Splash. This point is not specific to Great Call but common across all other mobile GPS alert devices.
Against a backdrop where mobile medical alert systems with GPS are still evolving and getting better, the 5Star Urgent Response product is one that has generated better user reviews and fans. It’s definitely worth a careful look into. It can be used as an out-of-home complement to a regular home medical alert system, or as a standalone in-and-out of home emergency alert device.
Great Call 5Star Detailed Review
Great Call, Inc is a company that provides wireless mobile solutions that allow seniors to lead more independent lifestyles. Their products like the 5Star Urgent Response mobile medical alert device are designed not just with senior end-users in mind, but also address the needs of the user’s children, loved ones and caregivers.
Great Call was founded in 2006 and based in San Diego, California. The company was focused on providing Jitterbug cell phones for seniors, before it expanded into the mobile personal emergency response (MPERS) market through their acquisition of MPERS company MobiWatch in 2009. This eventually gave rise to the one-of-a-kind Great Call 5Star Urgent Response senior alert device, introduced in 2011.
Currently, the 5Star Urgent Response product has achieved a level of adoption and success that few, if any, similar mobile alert devices for seniors can match up to. Besides the 5Star Urgent Response medical alert device, their products include the Jitterbug line of cell phones for seniors, as well as health and medical apps that allow children of seniors and caregivers to keep track of their movements for safety reasons. Great Call’s latest product is the Great Call Lively Wearable product, a watch or pendant activity tracking and help button device that will pair up with a smartphone through Bluetooth.
As of 7/29/2016, Great Call has superseded the Splash with the new Lively Alert device. This new generation device incorporates all the features of the Splash, and comes with Bluetooth connectivity in addition. Like the Splash, it works with the Great Call Link App that allows alerts to be sent to authorized users and access to GPS locations of the subscriber. To learn more, check out this comparison chart.
Although originally founded as a wireless telecommunications company, Great Call has emerged as a leader in the field of mobile emergency alert services for the elderly. This is backed by their success with serving the elderly through Jitterbug cell phones and their unique Splash urgent response device. Like other trusted medical companies such as Life Alert or LifeStation, they are a member of the Medical Alert Monitoring Association.
How It Works
The Great Call Splash 5Star Urgent Response medical alert device is a small lightweight emergency button pendant and GPS tracker that can be clipped to keychains, bags, purses or worn with a wristband, or around the neck with a lanyard. Senior users can use the button both at home and out of the home. It is designed to work anywhere, at home, when users go out shopping, to the malls, in their cars, and more. In case of medical and other emergencies, the senior user can click on the SOS help button of the 5Star Urgent Response personal security device.
Once the button is pressed, an outgoing alert call is made to the central station monitoring center. The connection is made through a wireless cell phone based connection. This connection is in-built within the device. No other cellular phone subscriptions are needed to have it work. As compared to a home-only medical alert system, this pendant unit itself incorporates the technology that initiates a call (through a cellular phone connection). It is not dependent on connecting through to a separate base station unit like with a home medical alert system. This difference allows the 5Star Response system to work whether the senior is at home or out across town.
A trained 5 Star monitoring agent will quickly speak with the user through a sensitive two-way speakerphone. Again, the speakerphone is in-built within the device. The GPS locator allows the monitoring agent to determine the location of the user, which they can confirm with the user.
The monitoring agent will evaluate the situation and then dispatch help as needed. Depending on the situation, help could come in various forms: the agent could call local 911 emergency services, contact a family member or caregiver, or just stay on the line with the subscriber until the situation is resolved.
In April 2015, the company introduced its Fall Detection service plan (Ultimate Plan). The Great Call Splash device is capable of detecting falls through a built-in accelerometer, a part that will measures acceleration to detect if a fall has occurred. If the Ultimate plan is activated, whenever falls are detected, an automated emergency call will be made to the monitoring center. There is no need for the user to press the SOS button.
Urgent Care Service
Great Call 5 Star agents can also connect the user to registered nurses and doctors, 24/7. This allows senior users to get help with medical and health related questions. The service is available in both English and Spanish. This service is available through the premium plan (Great Call Preferred).
The Great Call mobile medical alert device costs $49.99. There is a one-time activation fee of $35. The Basic monthly service fee is $19.99 per month, with two upgrade options. Subscription is on a month to month basis, and there are no minimum period requirements.
Compared to other mobile medical alert monitoring services in the market, $19.99 is a low monthly service fee. However, we found that our Great Call Splash subscription had more taxes and/or fees tagged to it than our subscriptions with more traditional medical alert companies.
An upgraded plan called the Great Call Preferred Plan ($24.99 /month) includes two extras: Urgent Care service (like a nurse line) and the use of the Great Call Link smartphone app or online dashboard that allow the senior user’s children or caregivers to monitor the user’s location.
Device Replacement coverage is available for an extra $3 /month for users of the Basic or Preferred plan. Great Call will replace damaged devices for a $15 fee, up to one replacement per 12 months.
In April 2015, Great Call introduced a brand new Ultimate Plan ($34.00 /month) that includes everything in the Preferred plan plus automated fall detection alerts. The fall-sensing technology of this feature has been built into the Great Call Splash device so any existing users of the Great Call Splash can access this feature by adding on the new plan. The Ultimate Plan also includes Device Replacement coverage.
There are no long-term contracts or cancellation fees associated with the 5Star Urgent Response system.
This Great Call medical system consists of just one main equipment piece: a small medical alert emergency button pendant that is not much bigger than a domino piece. The pendant measures approximately 3 inches in length, 1.7 inches wide and 0.7 inches in depth. It weighs 1.8 oz.
The pendant is attractive looking. Seniors who are conscious about being seen wearing a medical alert pendant everywhere can rest assured that this pendant looks nothing like the traditional medical alert pendant. It is also sleek and modern looking.
The emergency button pendant houses the SOS help button, cell phone technology to make outgoing alarm calls, GPS tracking, and a sensitive 2-way speakerphone for conversations.
The 5Star Urgent Responder package comes with an accessory clip, keychain attachment and battery charger.
Additional available paid accessories include a wristband for wearing the 5Star Response unit or a lanyard to wear the device around the neck. See options on official Great Call Splash site (look under accessories).
The range of a system is a concept associated with standard home medical alarm systems. It is a measurement of the maximum distance between the pendant and the home base station unit for an alert call to still go through. The range of a home medical alert system is typically 150 feet and higher. People looking at medical alert systems may want a system that has a long range so that it will work everywhere. More than likely, they will need an “unlimited range” mobile device like the Splash 5 Star Urgent that works as long as its cell phone connection works.
A mobile alert device like the 5 Star Urgent Response does not have the same range limitation that a home medical alert system has. Unlike the two-piece home base station and medical alert button set-up of home systems, the 5 Star pendant is a single-piece pendant. The pendant itself will initiate the call and connect the user to the monitoring center directly to establish a two-way conversation. It is designed to work anywhere Verizon’s cellular network signals work. That is thousands of miles nationwide.
If you are comparing this with a home medical alert system, the Splash is meant to work both in and out of the home. Regardless of how long the range is when looking into a home medical alert, there is a fixed home address associated with the system user. The home base station that is initiating the call is kept at home, and first responders will more than likely be sent to the user’s home, not to the location where the help button has been pressed. With the Splash, the 5 Star Response agent is trained to inquire with the user about where they are, and use GPS information if necessary.
The 5 Star Urgent Response device should be recharged frequently to ensure that it works all the time. You never know when an emergency happens. Each full battery recharge of the 5 Star device will allow for up to 3 days of standby time. Great Call recommends that users recharge their devices daily.
Unlike regular home medical alert systems, where the emergency button has a battery life that lasts for years, using this system does require a recharge from every day to every three days. So far, from customer feedback, this does not appear to be a major problem.
Users should be aware that they will probably not be able to carry and use the device while it is connected to a wall charger. One suggestion is to charge it at night near the user’s bed, where it is easily accessible. Do a test call to make sure that the product still works during charging. It is designed to function that way.
The current version of Great Call Urgent Response device, the Great Call Splash is waterproof. It has a waterproof rating of IPX7 for use in the shower or in baths (up to 3 feet deep and under 1/2 hour). This is an important feature, especially for seniors, as a lot of elderly falls has happened in slippery bathroom and shower areas.
Verizon Wireless Cellular Connection
The Great Call 5Star medical alert device works using the Verizon wireless network. This service is included in 5 Star’s monthly service fee of $19.99. No other wireless network subscription is needed for the system to work.
The downside of this is that the service is not available in areas where Verizon’s wireless connection is poor. It also means that the battery charge on the device draws down faster in areas where reception is low.
Installation is straightforward. Other than charging up the 5 Star mobile response device, there are no base stations to connect, unlike with regular home medical alert systems.
The 5 Star response device will need to be activated. This can be done online, or over the phone.
Monitoring help is provided 24/7 by certified US based agents. The agents are trained in CPR and other emergency protocols. They are also certified by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED). Great Call’s 5 Star agents are trained to stay on the line with users until the situation is resolved.
Online GPS Locator Service
A key plus of the Great Call Splash 5Star Responder device system has the ability to share the senior user’s location information with trusted family members and caregivers. The GPS-based Online Locator Service allows senior users to share with their loved ones and caregivers where they are, as indicated through the GPS tracking on their 5Star device. This information is only available to authorized contacts who login to the secure mygreatcall.com web dashboard.
The Great Call Splash premium plan is needed for this to work.
GreatCall Link Smartphone App
Besides the online GPS locater web dashboard, the GreatCall Link smartphone app brings even more useful information with authorized contacts. This allows authorized contacts such as children, loved ones and caregivers of the senior user, to keep tabs on the safety of the senior user.
Through the GreatCall Link smartphone app, they can check the power level of the device and receive notifications if emergency calls have been made. This is on top of getting the GPS tracker locations information on where the device and/or senior user is physically.
The Great Call Splash premium plan is needed for this to work.
Great Call has a BBB rating of A+ as of Mar 2016. Their BBB file showed 215 complaints in the last 3 years for all Great Call products, including Jitterbug cell phones. Out of these 215 complaints, 69 was resolved to the satisfaction of customers while 146 was answered to, but customers either remained dissatisfied, or did not respond back to indicate their satisfaction level. Scanning through the feedback, a few of the medical alert complaints had to do with users being unhappy with their services and had trouble getting the company to provide a refund.
The A+ rating, together with the moderate level of complaints for a company of its size, suggests that the company offers well-made products and is competent in customer service. If you are interested, some site readers who are/were customers of Great Call have also left their reviews and complaints in the comments section at the end of this page.
In our experience and researching feedback from others, Great Call’s customer support (handling account maintenance and billing) can be vary depending on who you talk to. Some customer reps are more understanding and friendly than others. If it so happens that you did not get your request properly heard with someone, try contacting them again, you may get a more helpful response.
Researching through online customer reviews elsewhere, some customers were unhappy that they had bought the product only to find that service was not available in their area. When purchasing the product, be sure to verify that it is available in your area through the online zipcode checker. This step is automatic in the checkout process at the Great Call official website.
The Great Call 5 Star Mobile Urgent Response device is a convenient and compact GPS capable pendant that offers protection for seniors in case of emergencies, whether they are at home or out and about. Compared to other mobile alert systems on the market, this device is easy to understand and use, and reviews from users have been very positive. Further, the subscription also comes with additional online tools to help seniors share their GPS locations information with loved ones. Mobile medical alert systems typically cost $30 or more a month, so the company is definitely offering good value for what it charges.
To get started with emergency alert monitoring protection for yourself or your parents, visit the official Great Call’s Lively Alert Device page. After you click the Buy button, type in your zipcode to verify that there is coverage in your area.
Disclosure: We receive referral compensation for purchases made (see details).
For more general tips on picking a good system, check out the Mobile Medical Alert Systems Guide.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this review, the information is supplied without warranties of any kind. We advise all readers to do careful due diligence before purchasing. Take time to visit the company’s website and speak with their representatives.