Monday, July 28, 2014

Donations for Knox Boxes Help Elderly and Disabled
May 8, 2014 by Ann Wishart | No Comments

"Open Sesame" could have been the name of the project recently funded to ensure emergency medical professionals can reach elderly or disabled residents in their…

“Open Sesame” could have been the name of the project recently funded to ensure emergency medical professionals can reach elderly or disabled residents in their homes.

Last Thursday, 105 residential Knox boxes were distributed among 12 Geauga County fire departments, said Geauga County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Scott Hildenbrand.

“Many times we are called to check on seniors who do not answer the door and in some cases, we force entry into the home to find that nobody is there,” he said.

If the resident is ill or has fallen and can’t get to the door, the only recourse the rescue team has is to break a door or window.

“Even if someone is home and needs assistance, it is difficult to secure the home after the victim is taken to the hospital. These boxes eliminate the damage and are very secure,” Hildenbrand said.

The heavy metal box hangs on the top of the resident’s door and contains a key to the door. The Knox box is locked and only the fire department has a key to open it, he said.

“The boxes are keyed to each fire department code. If the fire department is called, they can enter the residence without having to force entry,” Hildenbrand said.

The fire department will install a Knox box if a resident gets in touch, then add the resident’s information to a secure computer database.

The Knox boxes are free to residents and Hildenbrand said the only request is the box be returned to the fire department when it is no longer needed so it can be recycled to another home.

The Geauga County Department on Aging and Geauga County Rotary Clubs spent $10,000 each on the boxes and distributed them according to how many residences are in each department’s coverage area, the chief deputy said.

The Burton-Middlefield Rotary, Chester Rotary, Chardon Rotary and Chagrin Valley Rotary contributed to the project, Hildenbrand said.

When Burton-Middlefield Rotary heard about the plan, it sounded like a good way to give back to the community, said Tracy Jemison, Rotarian.

They talked to the other three Geauga Rotaries.

“They were all very supportive,” he said, adding they raised a total of $6,500 among them.

Then Rotary International came through with a match of $3,500, Jemison said, giving the project a great boost.

“Some fire departments had some Knox boxes — they just needed more,” he added.

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