Elder Orphans program helps

— Madera County Sheriff's OfficeJune 18, 2013 

With nearly 20 clients signed up with Madera County Elder Orphans Welfare Check program, a phone call that went unanswered last week sent one Citizen On Patrol volunteer and a deputy sheriff to a home in the foothills of Eastern Madera County.

Fortunately, the client was fine. For some reason, she simply missed the call.

But what if she needed assistance? Would anyone know, especially because she lives alone?

Elder Orphans was established in January for senior citizens who live alone.

The idea was introduced to the sheriff's office by an Oakhurst resident who referred to himself as an "Elder Orphan," after losing his wife of more than 50 years.

He sent a letter asking the department to consider ways to improve how emergency responders handle routine welfare checks, without adding additional burden to the force.

Out of that single request, the sheriff's office created a computer based telephonic check service — that is free to all subscribers.

According to a recent survey, roughly 10% of Madera County's population is 65 and older and as many as 10,000 live alone.

How it works

An automated computer system stores subscriber names, telephone numbers, addresses and requested call times (morning at 9 a.m. or afternoon at 4 p.m.).

When the system hears a voice response on the phone it will deliver a pre-recorded message.

The client either touches the #1 button to verify contact and that all is OK, or the client can touch the #2 button if emergency service is needed. By touching the #2 button, the client will be automatically transferred to the 911 communications center.

If the client does not answer after a preset number of calls, the system will show a missed call. A print out containing all vital information on that client is automatically generated, and a COP will be sent to that location to make a check in person.

Details: Erica Stuart, sheriff's office, (559) 675-7976, elderorphans.com.

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