LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office is offering a telephone alert system for elderly and disabled residents who live alone.
The program is called, “Are You Ok?” and was initiated at the beginning of January. It uses a computer system to provide daily checks on participants.
Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey said the program targets vulnerable individuals who, in the event of illness, accidental injury, or crime, are in danger of being left unattended and unaided for a lengthy period of time.
Using his 84-year-old father as an example, Kersey said the program allows seniors to feel independent, but have an extra sense of comfort living alone.
“The purpose is to ease concerns of friends and family to maintain constant reliable contact,” he said.
A computer generated call from the sheriff’s office ask the question “Are You Okay?” If there is no reply, steps are taken to check that the individual is safe.
The program is free and residents can subscribe by filling out an application and returning it to the sheriff’s office. The application only asks for name, phone number, address, next door neighbor, next of kin, pastor and doctors’ information.
Kersey said the system can also aid a family where a domestic violence order is in place. Also parents who may not be home at the time the child returns from school can use the program.
The system will call a subscriber at the same time everyday, but the subscriber can determine what time the call should be made, as well as how many attempt calls should be made or the length of time before someone else is contacted.
A subscriber can respond by either voice or entering a code when a call is received. If there is no answer, follow up calls are made. If no contact is made, then a print out will be sent to the sheriff’s office and a deputy will follow up with the neighbor. If the neighbor or next of kin is not available or cannot get in contact with the subscriber, an officer will be dispatched to the home for a wellness check. Kersey said his office will probably limit the number of call checks to twice a day, with at least one being right before bedtime.
The system can handle up to 150 calls an hour.
“It saves money, not having to drive to all of these residences every day. We are also able to reach more people each day. Right now we have about six or seven signed up.”
You can go to the sheriff’s office website at www.scotlandcountysheriff.org and download it. Deputies also have applications in their cars
Applications can be mailed in or taken to the office. If you need help filling it out, someone at the office can assist you. Mail the application to Scotland County’s Sheriff’s Office, 212 Biggs St., Laurinburg, N.C. 28352.
“I think it’s going to work out very well for us. It’s really going to be great for EMS too. It will work out not for the sheriff’s office but for some of the other services too,” Kersey said.
Scotland is one of 10 counties int he state to use the system.
The sheriff’s office plans to work with Laurinburg Police Chief Darrin Williams so city residents can also participate.
“We will make the calls for the police department, but if we have a certain number of calls their officers will have to respond. Hopefully we can build this up, but if it helps just one person. This is one of the promises we made to find every innovative option possible,” he said.
Maria D. Grandy can be reached at 910-506-3171.