Mt. Pleasant Police launch S.A.F.E. program for seniors, those with disabilities

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Mount Pleasant Police launched a new program that allows first responders to easily check on potentially-vulnerable adults.

The program, called S.A.F.E., for Senior Awareness for Everyone, is a voluntary program to check on those folks who may not have friends or relatives close by.

While the program was launched in September, Tuesday was the first time the Knox Box was implemented at a family's home.

The Knox Box is a special security key box to be used by first responders to obtain a key to the resident's home in an emergency or when their safety is in question. Only first responders have the special key required to open the box and gain access to the home without having to break in.

"We don't want to leave and not check on a person who may be lying there," Mount Pleasant Police Chief Carl Ritchie said. "So we have to break a door, break a window, and then it's their responsibility to fix it. I was thinking that's just not fair."

"I just want to thank the city of Mt. Pleasant for thinking forward, moving forward and being proactive in taking care of problems before they happen," said Lt. Governor Kevin Bryant.

The boxes were purchased through a $5,000 grant approved by the Lt. Governor's Office On Aging.

"The ultimate goal is to help seniors and those with disabilities stay at home as long as possible," Bryant said. "And this is just one more safeguard that they have should the fire department or police department need to enter the home."

Ritchie said 20 families have signed up for the program so far.

"The program means a whole lot to us in the way of peace of mind," Arthur Strauss said. His daughter is battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, an incurable degenerative nervous system disease.

"She has very specific needs if she should require oxygen or anything like that, it has to be provided in a very special way," Strauss said. "A normal oxygen mask on her face will kill her. So it's very important that we have a program like this where we can tell what she needs to the people who will be coming to do it."

Strauss said his family heard about the program two months ago and hasn't had any calls since, but urges other families to consider the program.

"Being a caregiver, you need help," Strauss said. "And having someone you love in distress, you need help. So I would say, do it."

"We're talking minutes, and minutes can cost a life," Ritchie said. "This box and with these folks who are taking part in this program, those minutes are taken away."

Emergency contact and medical information will be also collected in case that person becomes sick and is taken to the hospital.

To qualify for this program you must be a Senior citizen age 60 or older, 55-years-old and retired, or a disabled citizen. Click here for more information.

The Goose Creek Police Department has a similar program called "Are You Okay?", where dispatchers call its "clients" on a daily basis to check in on them.

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