We’re Not Getting Alarms Part 1

A device failing to alarm or restore properly can be the result of a number of different things. This will be a multiple week series and this week we will cover several general rules of thumb when trying to identify the possible causes.


There can be any number of reasons an end user makes a service call about alarms not going off. You may even see a variety of questions that will direct you towards one path or another. You might hear “We’re not getting alarms”, or “We have a device that’s not working”, or “We have a device that has stopped working”. The first may indicate a notification configuration issue, the second a bad device, and the last an RF issue; or perhaps it’s just a training issue. Below is a list of progressions you should go through to identify what is causing the alarm to not go off. These will be general guidelines and in successive weeks we will get into more specific details.
Step 1: Service Alerts
Service Alerts will always be one of your best friends. Check Service Report for low battery/missing supervisions for the Device and Locators. Service Reports and Service Alerts should always be your first line of inquiry with alarm failures. If you set up end users with service reports they themselves can stay ahead of any changes problems. Check your RCare Manual or the “Service Reports” Tech Bulletin on the Distributor website in for details on service alerts.
Step 2: Was It Working Before?
If the issue is not easily identifiable in the Service Report the first question you need to ask is was it working before? If so, what changed? Whether the end user is aware of any changes or not, this possibility needs to be scrutinized. Changes can affect the Locators, particularly ones on central power supplies. If it’s worked in the past or there are other devices working, you can often narrow down the issue to a specific hallway, room, or device. If it has never worked, you most likely have a coverage gap which we will discuss in a later bulletin.
Step 3: Check The Account
In this step you will further investigate issues found in steps 1 and 2. You’d also be surprised at how often you get a call for the Pendant in Room 101 not working only to find out that there are no devices programmed into Room 101. Also, by checking the device you will be able to identify the device in question, as well as its supervision history. Pendants’ last supervision should always be “Never” and if they are, it’s possible its diminishing transmitting power is the culprit. Pull cords or bedside station should always be in supervision and the Edit Device screen will provide you a lot of information. EX: you may have identified a transmitter that has been missing supervisions for some time, and it could be because you never told the system to monitor it, or it could identify exact when it stopped supervising.
Step 4: Check Wireless Network
Though this is the fourth recommended step, this is your bread and butter for verifying the health of your wireless network. Your Service Report will tell you when Locators are missing supervisions, but until they know a device has stopped working they may not know or care about a Locator missing supervision. Nobody can force the end user to react to Service Alerts, and so long as everything seems fine, they may overlook an issue with a Locator that they most likely don’t even know exists. They just know their devices are working…until they don’t. Often you can see a progression of a Locator going down and successive transmitters failing to check in within close proximity to one another. If a Locator is highlighted in red, you have a problem. IMPORTANT: Just because you have no Locator flag(s) and your supervisions are good does not mean you have adequate coverage.
When you get this call it can be daunting because of the list of potential causes is very large. First thing to do is mitigate immediate post install problems by making sure you verify the health of every device before you leave an install. Next, make sure you configure your service alerts and train the end user how to read them. Finally, ask yourself what is not alarming, and what is the alarm history of the device in question? These simple steps will limit the variables and get you on your way to identifying the culprit of missed alarms.