West Seneca police calling seniors to ask, ‘R U OK?”

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WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – West Seneca police are updating a community service that has been on their books since 1999 by asking their senior citizens and people with physical disabilities, “Are You OK?”, but the program goes by the simple letters, “R-U-O-K”—formal title, RUOK Telephone Reassurance System.

Its purpose is daily telephone checks on registered participants to make sure they are doing okay, because for these folks, the simplest mishaps such as slipping or falling without the ability to pick themselves up, can become a serious medical crisis, or worse.

The phone numbers are dialed automatically on a daily basis, by West Seneca police dispatchers.

If the intended recipient answers the call, it signals they are okay, a recorded voice confirms the connection, and the call ends.

If the subscriber fails to answer, Dispatcher Rick Galli said, police swing into action, “An alert is initiated, we respond out, we find the people, contact emergency personnel, who respond out and treat the individual accordingly.”

The service is free, and while interest has waned over the years, Galli said West Seneca senior citizen population is growing, and this service is needed now more than ever.

Even though West Seneca grandmother JoAnne Noworyta has not signed up for RUOK, she thinks it is terrific for other seniors, “How many of them have somebody actually to check on them. People don’t check anymore, nothing is the same as it used to be.”

Patricia Surdan is a senior from Lackawanna, who also supports the RUOK program, “Some people don’t have anyone to call them. It is important that you do? Yes, because they could be laying there for days.”

Jim Acker knows some folks in West Seneca that are participating in the program, “A lot of people have no kids here, so that is a big psychological help for them–that someone does care.”

Even though Acker carries an oxygen pack, he has not signed up for the program–he has something better, “I still have my wife.”

To sign up for RUOK, Galli said those who want to subscribe in the program can call him at the dispatch center, 674-2280, “We have a large senior population, we want to get the word out to them, let them know it exists, and that it is free of charge. They can call here and we will enroll them in the program.”

Galli added, subscribers do have to physically go to the police department and fill out a form, or have a relative pick it up for them. RUOK is for West Seneca residents only.

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