Troubleshooting 101: Solving Tel-Tron Problems Pragmatically

Tel-Tron Troubleshooting 101

There’s really not a special, magical process for troubleshooting your Tel-Tron system. In fact, the same troubleshooting steps used to do so can be applied to solve a variety of day-to-day problems. This month, I’m going to show you how to apply the same steps to troubleshoot two entirely unrelated problems.

Step #1: Verify the problem

dinner party

Problems have a tendency to initially appear worse than they really are. Should one arise, it’s up to you to determine the scope. Once you know what that is, it will make solving the problem much easier.

How this relates to real life:

Let’s say you’ve just held a wonderful dinner party for you and six other friends. Everything has gone just swimmingly. You drank, told tales, and were, by and large, merry. The evening concludes, everyone goes home, and you praise yourself with a mental tip-of-the-hat to your excellently hosted feast. Job well done! But the next day, the rumors begin to circulate. Someone at your party suffered some pretty severe indigestion. You could just ignore these rumors, but that’s probably not a good idea. Your inquisitive nature and your reputation force you to investigate.

Where to start?man with belly ache

Find the source of these rumors, trace them to the alleged inflicted person, and talk to that person directly. Keep the questions simple. “Hey, were you feeling sick after dinner yesterday?” If so, make sure it’s not because of something obvious and unrelated, like getting mild food poisoning from a fast food restaurant they stopped at on the way home because they found your dinner to be “insufficient.”

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

Let’s say you use pagers. Ah Pagers… This mobile notification device gets passed around from person to person more than any other device except, perhaps, staff reset pendants. Lots of different people use them, and the devices see use pretty much from dusk ‘til dawn, then all through the night. Given this high amount of usage, there’s a much better chance of an individual pager failure than there is of system-wide pager system problem. If you begin to hear rumors that your paging isn’t working, my recommendation is not to leap to the conclusion that your paging system is down. Instead, start simple. Track down the person with said non-functioning pager, and verify the problem. Is that pager really not getting pages? Maybe we have a training opportunity here. If it’s really not though, determine if the solution isn’t something simple, such as replacing a low battery–the most common reason for a pager not getting a page.

Step #2: Start gathering more data

A single sample doesn’t tell you a whole lot. What’s one poisoned friend or one bad pager? Certainly not an epidemic! Let’s make sure though. It’s time to investigate further.

How this relates to real life:

Alright, the rumors appear to be true. Your friend has just confirmed that shortly after leaving your party, he came down with a debilitating sickness that has shaken the very fabric of your friendship—and no it wasn’t from a drive-by Taco Bell visit on the way home. Don’t panic. As already noted, it’s just one friend. There’s a good chance your other friends are fine, and that would still leave you with five, which is a pretty good ratio of healthy friends. Still, best make sure this isn’t a widespread problem. Start calling around. Find out who else may be affected, and if so, what he ate. Make some lists. This guy ate this. Did he feel OK? This guy ate that. How’s he feeling? And so on.

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve found one pager that’s not working, but that doesn’t mean your “paging system is down.” Don’t panic. It’s just one pager. There’s a good chance your other pagers are fine, and that would leave you several other good pagers. (Unless you only have one pager, then don’t panic, but contact us to get you a rush-order on some new pagers.) Still, if that pager isn’t working, gather it from the staff member using it – it’s not doing any good with her anyway if it’s not getting any pages – and start hunting around for another. Find out: are all my pagers affected? If so, which ones?

Step #3: Form a hypothesis

Troubleshooting’s close cousin is the Scientific Method. So yes, you may call yourself “a scientist.” At this step in the troubleshooting process, you hypothesize, based on collected data, a reason for the problem at hand.

How this relates to real life:

You’ve called everyone at the party and discerned that two others had similar indigestion. Not too shabby. You know, for example, that you didn’t poison everyone, so at least one of your dishes was edible. Nicely done! Now to figure out which dish was the culprit. You had a lot of options, but all of your collected data seems to point to the chicken salad. You didn’t have any of it yourself because there was just so much food, and your buddy brought a nacho platter. You just couldn’t resist nachos so you filled up on that and, well, long story short: you didn’t have any chicken salad, and you’re not sick. In fact, the only three people who got sick are also the only three people who ate the chicken salad. Hypothesis: It was the chicken salad, in the dining room, with the salmonella.

biohazard chicken salad

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve searched around and discovered that two other pagers are also not receiving pages. This is important, because if any one pager gets a page, you know that the “paging system” is not down. The pager transmitter—often called a pager base—has a fire-and-forget mentality. It’s told to send a page, it sends the page, and it doesn’t keep track of which pagers got the page. If, while testing your pagers, even one pager worked, you can be confident that the pager transmitter has done what it was supposed to do. It transmitted. Hypothesis: The “paging system” is fine. You’ve just got three misbehaving pagers.

Step #4: Test and verify your hypothesis

You’ve formed a hypothesis, now it’s time to put it through the wringer.

How this relates to real life:

You’re gripped with this notion that your age-old family recipe for chicken salad has somehow led to a disastrous after party for several of your friends. You have to know for sure. Was it indeed the chicken salad? The only way to find out, obviously, is to have a sample tested. Go home, collect it in a bag and send it off to the crime lab. You know, that crime lab everyone has access to that’s just readily waiting to vindicate poor hosts from harsh accusations of food poisoning? That’s what THIS troubleshooter is recommending. Expect results in six to eight weeks. However, for the sake of fully disclosing ALL of the troubleshooting options, there might be a simpler way. Not that I’m recommending it. You know that annoying guy, the one always sniffing around at lunch looking for freebies? Ask him if he’d like some chicken salad. Homemade. Very fresh. Made just last night.

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve done some excellent trouble shooting and data collection to this point. As a practicing scientist, you’ve narrowed the problem down to three pagers that seem to be acting up. You’ve also prevented a wide-spread panic by proving that the “paging system” isn’t “down,” but in fact, you’ve just got some bum pagers.
Call tech support!Still, there are a few more things to test. A lot of communities use what’s called “mapping,” so it’s a good idea to double check settings. I’m not going to go into all that here. You’ve done quite a bit of heavy lifting already. Let us help you with this last step. If you’re not sure how to check a pager’s settings, give Technical Support a call. Best case scenario, we’ll get these pagers working! Worst case, we’ll simply re-verify the work you’ve done and come to the same conclusion you have: three bad pagers. While perhaps inconvenient that you’ve got some broken pagers, you should still feel good that you’ve got a handle on things. You figured it out! And you did this all while carrying the soul-crushing guilt of poisoning your friends with bad chicken salad. Well done!

Introducing the Tel-Tron Training Channel!

At Tel-Tron, we understand that not everyone learns the same way.  For example, I prefer regimented, strict courses with a syllabus and clear goals. Other people prefer to just get a manual and a cup of coffee, curl up in a corner, and read at their own pace. Whatever your style, we can meet it.

Recently, Technical Support received a request from a community to explain why their pagers function a certain way. While we were able to explain exactly why to this person over the phone, we decided to make a video that might illustrate the situation better. (It’s a fairly common question.) So, we whipped up a training video, posted it on our YouTube channel, and sent it along. The customer was incredibly pleased and responded:

Yes definitely that was great!  Addressed our exact issue.  Maybe send out an email notice when new videos are posted.

And there’s more where that came from. Plus, there are many more already in the works, but if you have a training question, and would like to see a video made about it, we can probably work that in. Visit our training channel on YouTube and let us know.

Training. Just Do It!

Like most of you, I wear several hats at work. The one that sits upon my brow most often is that of the Technical Support Analyst. Each day, I speak with people to help them fix whatever problems they’re having with their emergency call systems. This ranges from full-fledged, lightning-induced system outages to issues with printing daily reports. Not surprisingly, both of the aforementioned problems are held to the same level of importance — mostly because, from a user standpoint, they are both problems with “The System.”

In my experience, when people think about their Tel-Tron CompanionOne system, they generally think of a complicated and somewhat mystifying machine (“The System”) that, when all the cogs are in place, performs an automated task which thus makes their lives and jobs simpler. The System has several stages of redundancy — like our alarming console and also paging, staff phones and radios — that help keep it running, even if individual components may have failed.

Unfortunately, a user’s perception of The System often excludes a very important component: said User. As automated as our CompanionOne system may be, it still requires a human component. That’s why Tel-Tron focuses so much on training: developing new training, making videos, producing manuals and user’s guides, and more. (That’s the other hat I wear.)

Training is vital to performing any job well. Not a single one of us in born knowing how,  for example, to reset a pendant emergency call using a staff reset pendant. (Which, by the way, is done as follows: press the staff reset pendant first, then press the alarming resident’s pendant.) We have to learn, but there has to be a reason. People need to see why something is useful and relevant.

So, let me offer a couple of practical, real-world reasons why training your staff to use your CompanionOne system should be a regular investment.

  • Training builds confidence. Our training courses let you see a CompanionOne system in action and teach you how to use it more effectively. It’s your tool after all. Make it do what you want.
  • Training saves you money. Would you rather wire up a new station yourself, or pay someone else to do it? With training, there’s nothing you can’t maintain yourself. Furthermore, those individuals who attend our training seminars and become certified receive free technical support — for life.
  • Training saves lives. Learning to use The System effectively will decrease response times, creating a safer environment for your residents. Furthermore, improperly using or maintaining The System, like any powerful tool, can lead to unexpected consequences. In the life-safety industry, unexpected consequences can be devastating.

We offer many options for training. I and my colleagues fly all over the country and offer training seminars to every one of our senior living community partners. Very often, we can come right to your community. Or you can come here to sunny Daytona Beach; we’re very flexible. For those customers who have recently installed a Tel-Tron system, training is actually free for the first two attendees. Even if you can’t attend a class, all of our user’s manuals are available online in easy-to-use, illustrated PDFs. And since I make them, I also take requests. Need a guide to something and don’t see that it exists? Let me know. It’s a safe bet if you need it, so does someone else.

There’s a training option available for everyone. We can work it out to make sure you get the most from your CompanionOne system. Call me up. Get trained. Get certified. And add another feather to one of your many caps.

For more information and training material, or to sign up
for an upcoming training class, click the image to the right:

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