New automated call service to check in on seniors

Published 07/22 2013 10:33PM

Updated 07/23 2013 12:11PM

DEWITT COUNTY -- A Central Illinois community is dialing up a new program to keep the elderly safe. Many people check on their older family members by phone, but not everyone is lucky enough to get that call.

That's where DeWitt County Triad, an organization designed to help seniors, steps in. The county plans on using an automated service called "Are You OK?"

It will call a subscriber once a day at a specific time, just like a loved one would. Only this service is persistent and won't forget.

If something happened to Millie Holman, a special checklist on her fridge gives first responders a crucial head-start in saving her life. But before doing that, they need to know if she needs help in the first place. That's where "Are You OK?" comes in.

"Because we are an aging population here in DeWitt County, we felt that this was something we would try," said Tony Harris, 911 coordinator for CENCOM, the county's dispatch service.

The automated check welfare system would run out of his office. Subscribers get a call and simply press a button to let the program know they're okay.

"If they haven't checked in with the system, then we would call family members first before we would send EMS out," he said.

"Sounds like it would be a good idea for older people like me," said 94-year-old Beatrice Thomas.

She hasn't had a scare, but her friend Holman has fallen before.

"I didn't think that advertisement was at all funny that said 'I've fallen and can't get up.' Wait till they get there," said Holman.

"If there's a problem, if they are laying on the floor, we want to be able to get help sent out immediately and that's exactly what this system is intended for," said Harris.

Even if Holman and Thomas were the only ones to sign up, Harris feels it's worthwhile.

"If it saves one life, that's our goal, is to save one life."

Subscribing for "Are You OK?" is free, and it's not just for seniors. Latch key kids can be registered so parents have peace of mind as well. If you'd like to learn more about the program, the county is holding an informational meeting.

Are You OK? Informational Meeting
Friendship Center
Wednesday, July 31

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