Elderly woman who fell at home couldn’t activate her panic alarm

An elderly Athboy woman lay on her floor for hours after a fall on Friday, as her out of order telephone rendered her panic alarm useless.

Angry local residents in St James Tce have now accused Eir of abandoning the most vulnerable, as four elderly residents on the estate rely on the personal panic alarms.

Landline and broadband services to the estate have been out of order since 18th April, when a pole was knocked in a traffic accident.

Residents who are distraught at what happened to their neighbour, are furious with Eir, saying they have made countless calls to the company to have service restored.

"It is scandalous. We are so annoyed. Our elderly neighbour is in hospital at the moment. If the landline had been working somebody would have been with her straight away," said local resident, Susie Reilly.

"Her grandaughter had just left when she had the fall and it was hours later before she got help."

"We have four elderly people in the estate who rely on the panic alarms, if anything goes wrong. They are all quite elderly."

Susie explains that a pole was knocked by a car on 18th April. "A crew came out that night and took away the pole and tidied up, but nothing has been done since. We have contacted them numerous times.

"We are Sky customers, but it seems Eir provide the phone-line and internet. I have a child in secondary school that need the internet for homework and projects. Another neighbour works from home. It is hugely frustrating."

Another resident said she hasn't had her phone or internet since 18th April , but she is particularly angry at the way her elderly neighbours are being treated. "We have four neighbours with panic alarms. It is just awful. We have called Eir umpteen times," she said.

"It is unthinkable that this has happened. To think that one of our neighbours was in trouble, but none of us knew because the alarm wasn't working, Eir were told this could happen, but they have yet to restore the service.

"As well as the dangers to our most vulnerable residents, there are people who work from home, who haven't been able to because they have no broadband and schoolchildren who need their broadband for homework and projects."

Cllr David Gilroy says that he and many of the residents of St James Tce have continuously highlighted this issue with Eir but with no response.

"I very rarely take my grievances public, preferring instead to rely on discreet and professional work in the background, where relationships can be preserved and an satisfactory outcome achieved.

"In this instance I am afraid that all reasonable channels have been exhausted and the consequence of Eir seemingly being unaccountable to anyone has culminated in a very serious incident, which had been predicted and could have been avoided.

"I found that, when contacting the company, the customer service personnel are very sympathetic , however, outcomes are significantly less so.

"I have been struck by how many similar incidents occur and this kind of response is considered the norm, which I find far from satisfactory. An organisation tasked with delivering and maintaining a critical infrastructure should know and do better. It’s important for organisations like Eir to remember that rather than “customers or clients” they are dealing with real and in many instances venerable people, many of whom rely on their service for safety and piece of mind."

A spokesperson for Eir said services would be restored today (Wednesday).

"Open Eir assessed the accidental damage caused to a telecommunications pole and cables in Athboy.

"Repair will require the powering down of electricity cables near the damaged infrastructure for safety reasons in order to restore service. To carry out this work, Open Eir is awaiting confirmation of requested scheduled outage, which has been granted for Wednesday, 24th [May], the works are expected to be completed on the same day, restoring all services. Open Eir is treating this repair work as a matter of urgency and apologises to its customers for any inconvenience."