Organizer seeks grants for reverse 911 system to aid senior citizens

By Denise Dick

A reverse 911 system to check the welfare of residents is in the works.

BOARDMAN — A partnership among public, private and nonprofit groups hopes to address the needs of senior citizens and disabled people who live alone.

“Our goal is to try to set up a network of community resources to address the concerns of seniors in the community and people who are disabled and who live alone,” said Detective Chuck Mound, crime prevention officer.

Boardman Cares was initiated last March by the township’s police and fire chiefs, said the Rev. Ash Welch of Boardman United Methodist Church. The police department’s chaplain group, which includes ministers from churches within the township, and agencies that serve seniors and the disabled then got involved.

Mound is looking for available grants, both public and private, to buy a reverse 911 system.

Those who want to enroll can sign up, and include the name and phone number of contact people. The system calls the senior or disabled individual to check on his or her well-being.

If the person is OK, they press “1”. If not, they press a different number.

For those who indicate a problem, the system notifies the contact person or people.

Police are dispatched if no one can be reached.

The cost of the system is about $28,000 plus a roughly $1,500 annual maintenance fee.

Volunteers would be used to input the data provided by those who enroll into the database.

The system provides a way to check on seniors’ welfare that’s less labor-intensive than manual checks.

It also could be used in other ways such as notifying residents of disasters, announcing block watch group meetings, or telling a neighborhood of an Alzheimer’s patient or autistic child who has wandered away from home.

Dave Brady, marketing director at Clemente Ambulance, said such a database also could be used during a disaster to help emergency personnel prioritize those in need of assistance or medical care.

The Rev. Mr. Welch said that another area church had a booth at a festival this summer, gauging residents’ interest in the program. “The response was very positive,” Mr. Welch said.

After the reverse 911 gets up and running, Boardman Cares may expand to direct seniors and the disabled to additional resources they may need.

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