New Itawamba 'call tree' service aims to save lives

By Adam Armour/Itawamba County Times

FULTON – The Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department has begun offering a new calling service the sheriff believes could save lives.
Designated a “call tree,” the free service allows Itawamba County residents to add their names to a list of people called each morning by a deputy with the sheriff’s department. If no one answers that call, a deputy will drive to the participant’s house to check on him or her.
According to Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson, the service is primarily targeted at the elderly, but any county resident can use it for a variety of reasons.
“Say you just got out of the hospital, and you’re at home by yourself,” he said. “We will call you every morning to check on you. If you don’t answer your phone, we’re going to come to your home and check on it.”
The calls will generally be made between 8 and 9 every morning. The sheriff said, if need be, a deputy can call multiple times each day to check on someone.
“A phone call doesn’t cost us anything,” he said, adding that he believes the service will be especially popular among people who are helping care for an aging person.
“There are a lot of working people out there who help care for a semi-mobile relative. So they can’t always keep a check on them,” he said. “If we can alleviate some of that worry for family members, we’ll do it. We’re here all the time anyway.”
Dickinson added that participation in the program doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. People can sign up for a week’s worth of calls and then drop out.
“Just let us know when you don’t need us anymore, and we won’t call,” he said.
According to Dickinson, a similar program is in effect in Union County, which has actually saved people’s lives. As an example, he said officers responded to an elderly woman’s home after receiving no answer to their routine morning call. When they arrived at her home, they found the woman had fallen outside and couldn’t get up.
He said that call may have saved her life; it could do the same for an Itawamba County resident some day.
“We hope people don’t need it, but I think it’s good to offer something like this if we can,” Dickinson said. “Caring for people is free.”
For more information on the “call tree” service, contact the Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department at (662) 862-3401.
adam.armour@journalinc.com