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Archive for Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sedgwick County database will help elderly, disabled

July 17, 2008

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— The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday unveiled a database for emergency responders that will have personal information from elderly and disabled residents who sign up for the program.

The database will include participants' medical conditions, family doctors, the location of medicines and whether the person has a living will or other instructions. It also will have contact numbers for relatives, caregivers or friends in the event of an emergency.

"We have a population that is growing older and many of us here are baby boomers, so as that demographic changes in our community we need to be able to respond to it," said Undersheriff Bob Hinshaw.

Sedgwick County has about 64,000 elderly or disabled residents.

The database can also include such information as where a spare key to a home is kept and authorization for emergency responders to force their way into a home if a resident can't come to the door.

The free, voluntary program is dubbed the Sheriff's Elderly/Disabled Notification Intensive Outreach Response System, or SENIORS. The secure database is part of a cooperative program between law enforcement, the senior advocacy group Triad of South Central Kansas, and Sedgwick County senior citizens.

"This was a hole in services we could easily provide," Hinshaw said.

When emergency officials respond to a call at the home of someone enrolled in the program, the 911 dispatcher will see a "premise alert" notification on the residents, Hinshaw said.

The Sedgwick County program was put together after officers studied similar programs around the country, learning what worked and what didn't.

The announcement was made at Wichita's Oaklawn Senior Center, where several elderly residents took immediate interest in applying.

Among them was Rosemary Ray, 77, who has been living by herself for almost three years. Asked why she was interested, she replied: "Because I am old."

Earlene White, 89, and Nellie Brown, 90, sat together at a table and looked over their applications. Both said the program will help give them peace of mind.

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