MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP – A free program that helps seniors and shut-ins live safely and independently at home is expanding its area of service to include Hustead and parts of Green Township.
The Mad River Township Safe and Sound Program consists of two options available to village and township residents. First, the program provides a daily check-in service where participating residents place a telephone call to township fire and EMS department dispatchers. The program also offers residents a key lockbox, which allows fire and EMS crews to gain access to a resident’s home if the individual is unable to answer the door.
“The seniors that participate in the daily check-in service must have the key lockboxes on their doors. This allows emergency personnel to quickly enter a house with a homeowner’s key kept in the lockbox,” said Linda Kankey, a township fire and EMS dispatcher.
Kankey and township dispatchers Pam Weaver, Denise Hobson and Janet Burns divide up the task of manning the Safe and Sound Program call-in center seven days a week. Residents participating in the program are encouraged to call the dispatcher on duty between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. daily. If the dispatcher does not receive a call from any participant of the program, she then places a telephone call to that individual. Should no contact be made, the dispatcher will dispatch department personnel to conduct a welfare check at the resident’s home.
“We feel good when that telephone line lights up, and we see that each senior is checking in with us,” Hobson said. “We have developed a wonderful rapport with these people and enjoy talking with them each day.”
The dispatchers also maintain a printout containing a resident’s emergency information, including a physician’s name and phone number, next-of-kin contact information, and a brief medical history.
According to Mad River Township Trustee President Kathy Estep, the dispatchers are playing a key role in filling the gap when relatives or friends cannot always check-in with the seniors or when a township resident has no family at all.
“The primary goal of this program is to provide some peace of mind and security for older adults living alone and their families,” Estep said.
The township first established the Safe and Sound Program in 2008 after Captain J.R. Routt, with the township fire and EMS department, shared information about the Fairborn Fire Department’s Operation Safety Net Program. Now, township trustees are working with Green Township Trustees to expand the service to residents living in the Hustead area and parts of Green Township.
“We are finalizing our plans and hope to have the Safe and Sound Program in full operation in these additional areas by early spring. All we have to do now is establish who will be in charge of the program at the fire and EMS station in Hustead,” said Estep.
At this time, approximately 10 senior citizens participate in the daily check-in service, and more than 45 residents have lockboxes on their front doors. Township officials are also anticipating more citizens registering for the program as a growing population in the village and township become seniors. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, approximately 20.8 percent of the population in the village and township is age 65 or older.
“It’s a good feeling to know that people care about you. That’s why we want to expand the program to those areas that the Hustead Fire and EMS Departments service,” Estep said.
Township residents can register for the program by obtaining a PDF copy of the Safe and Sound Program application form at http://www.madriverfireandems.com/public-information/.
For more information about the Enon and Mad River Township Safe and Sound Program, please contact Captain Routt or the dispatcher on duty at 937-864-1995, ext. 238.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.