DUMMERSTON—Beginning in the new year, the Windham County Sheriff’s Department will increase its ability to conduct routine welfare checks on elderly residents living alone.
Enrollees in the department’s “RUOK” (Are You Okay?) program receive a personal phone call from the dispatcher every morning to check in on their welfare.
But the number of participants began to place a burden on the dispatcher, so the department is currently field-testing an automated system that will allow more people to enroll. It should “go live” on or about Jan. 1.
Sheriff Keith Clark reported on the new program to the Dummerston Selectboard at their Dec. 7 regular meeting and noted the success of RUOK.
The new automated system calls the participant and has them press the “1” button on the phone if they are okay. If the person presses another button, or doesn’t answer the phone, a deputy will follow up with a check-in.
“We’ve had a couple of saves since I’ve been sheriff where people didn’t answer their phone or didn’t sound quite right when dispatch called and we sent Rescue or the contract person over and got them help right away,” Clark said. “It does save lives.”
Clark invited the public to call the Sheriff’s Department “if you know someone who’s elderly and living alone and you want someone to check on them once a day.”
“We’ll take care of you,” Clark said. “Just give us [a] phone number. That’s all you need.”