Falling down or having some other emergency is a scary experience that is made even worse when a person is home alone and unable to reach a phone.
Hoping to provide those in such situations with some assistance, Washington County Job and Family Services is offering emergency telephone response systems to county residents who meet certain requirements.
"It's like the programs you see where people have the buttons and call for help," explained Kelly Bauerbach, a social service supervisor at job and family services. "This is a system that is attached to the person's phone and it does the same thing. We program it so it dials certain numbers like friends and family and the last number is 911."
She added that if the first person called doesn't answer, the system automatically dials another programmed number.
Bauerbach said the agency provides the phone as well as the button, which can be worn around the neck or the wrist.
To be eligible to receive the system, she said residents must 60 or older and household income must be below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
For more information about the emergency telephone response system, call Washington County Job and Family Services at 373-5513.
For more information about RUOK? call the O'Neill Center at 373-3914.
"It's a system where they don't incur a monthly charge for it," Bauerbach said. "It's for those people who can't afford to have the response system through some of the companies."
There are multiple national companies that offer medical alert services, including Lifeline.
She said the agency just started offering the system for the first time about four months ago and already about 20 people have been approved for it.
"I have 75 to 80 units left," Bauerbach said, noting that the program is funded with Title XX funds.
Terry Zdrale, executive director of the O'Neill Center in Marietta, said she thinks the program is a good idea.
"There are many seniors who really should have some form of emergency response system," she said.
Zdrale noted that the O'Neill Center offers the RUOK? program to all Washington County residents 60 and older, regardless of income.
Through the program participants are checked on daily through a telephone call. She said the center partners with the Washington County Sheriff's Office to implement the program.
"If after the third try you're not answering the phone then it starts alerting and the people in the jail start contacting whoever your contacts are," Zdrale said. "That has happened a couple times...one man said it actually saved his life because he was in a diabetic coma."