OHIO VALLEY — Middleport may soon join with Gallia County in the use of the “Are You OK?” Telephone Reassurance Program.
Middleport Police Chief Bruce Swift said he had been in contact with Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning, who said the county still uses the program, with their highest number at 80. Currently, Gallia County has about 25 subscribers. According to Browning, the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office has been making use of the system since the early 2000s.
Browning said the Gallia County program originally received funding from a grant through the Ohio Attorney General’s office. The county, about four years ago, paid to upgrade to a more modern computer system.
“People down there (in Gallia County) are really happy with it,” Swift said. “It was a benefit to them, and they haven’t had any problem with their system.”
Browning echoed the same sentiment.
“It’s a great thing; a win for everyone at the cost of a phone call,” he said. “It’s generally low manpower. We have very minimal staff time in it, but we do monitor it to make sure it’s being used properly.”
The Middleport police chief brought up the program at Monday night’s Middleport Council meeting. The program is set up to automatically call anyone who subscribes at certain times of day to check if that person is OK. According to their information, this program can apply to the elderly, the handicapped, home-bound individuals and latch key children, or children who are home when their parents are at work.
Calling times are pre-arranged by anyone who’s interested in the program, and calls can be scheduled down to the minute. There will be an unlimited number of contacts per subscriber. Calls can also be made more than once a day, with up to 150 calls per hour, if needed. The program operates 24/7.
Swift said he understood the need for this program after an incident last December, in which an unnamed Middleport man fell in his bathtub and was stuck there for two days. A postal employee called the Middleport Police Department, and although the man was responsive and talking when he was taken in the ambulance, he died days later. He added that other incidents like this have occurred since, but no other fatalities have happened.
“I just think we have a lot of senior citizens in our community, a lot of handicapped (people), things like that,” Swift said. “It could be a lifesaver for somebody in our community. Hopefully it never has to be , but it can be one little piece of mind for somebody who lives alone or who has family who’s not close.”
Swift said the program will have a one-time $1,000 payment for the programming, and monthly cost for the program’s own phone line will be needed as well, which can come from the village’s budget or donations.
For any general information, you can call “Are You OK?” at 612-309-6455 or visit their site at www.ruok.com. For subscription information, contact the Middleport Police Department at (740) 992-6424 or the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office at (740) 446-1221. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555. Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.