On the alert for seniors

By Richard Reidinger
Special to the Rappahannock News

Suzanne Schiffman wrote a letter to the editor last month which spoke of the importance of medical alert devices for many of our senior citizens, citing a recent story of someone who had fallen in his home and was helped by a postal carrier.

Sad to say, these types of incidents among Rappahannock County seniors are encountered fairly often by our six volunteer rescue squads. A few of our actual incidents illustrate this.

• A senior had been lying on the floor injured and alone without food or water for days after falling but fortunately was still alive. A friend came by and called 911 for help.

• A senior had tripped going down the stairs and lay at the foot of the stairs alone for hours, unable to move, until a neighbor came by to check and called 911 for help.

• A senior had fallen in the evening and lay on the floor all night. No one answered the sheriff office’s checkup call the next morning, so a deputy was dispatched and called in the emergency medical situation.

Poppy Foddrell of RRCSB shows off the Guardian Alert system that she and Sharon Pyne of the county social services department help install in Rappahannock seniors’ homes.Dick Reidinger
Poppy Foddrell of RRCSB shows off the Guardian Alert system that she and Sharon Pyne of the county social services department help install in Rappahannock seniors’ homes.

The Guardian Alert program was organized by Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services Board to address these kinds of problems in Rappahannock and the other four counties that it covers. The system includes a small device that sits next to the existing telephone line and a pendant that the senior wears around her neck. It has a range of about 200 feet, and the wearer can speak directly through the pendant to a 911 dispatcher with access to the caller’s name and address. There is no monthly fee for the device.

The original funds for Guardian Alerts in Rappahannock were privately donated, but the need for the devices quickly exhausted the money. At that point, Sharon Pyne of the county social services department approached the Rappahannock Lions Club for help in purchasing more. The Lions provided a matching grant of $1,000 for purchase and installation of the medical alert devices for senior citizens in the county. Two other Rappahannock organizations stepped forward to match the Lions’ money.

Together these grants provided enough to purchase about 20 additional Guardian Alert devices, which are now being installed free of charge for Rappahannock senior citizens in need. The Lions Club suggests that if you need such a device, or know someone who does, contact Sharon Pyne at 540-675-3313, ext. 2221.

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