In an effort to come together as peers, to share industry ideas and experiences, and hopefully, to make a difference, individuals and companies involved in personal emergency response systems or PERS industry have formed the Medical Alert Monitoring Association or MAMA.

“We are a group of individuals and companies that are associated with the PERS industry and we specialize in medical alarm signaling,” explained Richard Bangerter, board member of MAMA and president of Rescue Alert, a provider of medical monitoring and equipment, South Jordan, Utah.

According to Ken Gross, president of MAMA and of Connect America Medical Alarm Company, the association started with a small group of medical alarm dealers meeting informally for a couple of years. “We decided that is was in our best interest to form an association, so we came up with our officers and board members,” he said. Last year, the unofficial association met in Chicago, said Gross. “We brought in about 30 people to that meeting and we decided it was time to make it official,” he added.

MAMA scheduled an annual meeting for March 28, 2007 to coincide with ISC West in Las Vegas. Currently, officers and board members are focusing on building the base membership of the association through mailings, announcements on its Web site, personal phone calls, and word of mouth.

“We’re all in competition in some way, but the benefit of an association is that everybody is doing something in their own backyard that they can share and maybe we can help each other. There is a lot of camaraderie in this group and I believe it will be to the benefit of everybody,” said Gross who has been in the alarm business for 30 years. “If you get one good idea from the members, it’s worth your dues. That’s my thinking.”

One important issue that MAMA members are looking to tackle is lobbying for federal funding to help individuals afford personal medical monitoring. “We have a lobbying firm that we are working with and we are exploring options. There are so many people that cannot afford [medical monitoring] devices. We try to make them available and keep costs down, but if you are on a fixed income or no income, you can’t afford it,” Bangerter said.

In addition to lobbying efforts, Gross said, MAMA will explore recruiting an official insurance carrier for members, providing educational sessions and speakers, and possibly providing marketing support for members. With increased membership and a ‘power in numbers,’ the association has many plans for the future, including a full-time employee. “If we raise enough dues, we’d be able to afford that, and that would benefit all of us,” Gross said.

Through MAMA, members hope to educate people about the PERS industry and shine a positive light on what they do. “We provide a wonderful service; we help save lives everyday. We want to raise the level of awareness found in the industry and the sincerity we have for helping people,” Bangerter said.

In addition to individuals and companies providing PERS and medical monitoring equipment, manufacturers and central stations are encouraged to become members of the association. For more information about MAMA,