PRESTONSBURG – The Floyd County Sheriff’s Office has joined efforts with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office to implement the COAST program. COAST stands for Checking On a Senior Today. Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt and Rowan County Sheriff Matt Sparks spoke to the Elder Abuse and Maltreatment Council at the Big Sandy Area Development District on Thursday, explaining the benefits and need for the COAST program in every community.
“For whatever reason, our young citizens are leaving Floyd County leaving behind an aging population,” said Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt. “This program is meant to provide the elderly citizens who live alone a sense of security knowing someone will be checking on them in case a tragedy happens.”
The program was initiated in Rowan County late last year after two senior citizens passed away of natural causes and had likely been dead for a few days before being discovered by law enforcement officials. One gentleman whose family had installed a surveillance system for their loved one originally thought their father died of a heart attack. After his daughter watched the surveillance video of her father it was discovered the man had survived for three days after falling. He crawled a short distance but was unable to make it to the phone to call for help. He died of natural causes. However, he could have possibly survived had help arrived sooner and gotten him the medical treatment he needed.
“This program is meant for those senior citizens who do not have close family or friends who check on them on a regular basis,” said Hunt. “You don’t have to be a family member to refer someone to the COAST program. If you know someone in your community that could benefit, please call the office.”
“The tragedy that occurred in our community in December will hopefully save a life and prevent this sort of thing from happening again in our community, said Sparks. “The program is geared toward those elderly citizens or disabled citizen who do not have friends or family members to check on them daily. We will be that friend to call them.”
The Rowan County Sheriff’s Department said it has had an overwhelming response from the community wanting to volunteer as callers. Sparks said he would like to introduce the COAST program to other departments in Kentucky.
Hunt plans to hire a senior from the Big Sandy Community Action Senior Work program to call those individuals referred to the COAST program daily. If a citizen does not answer the phone after two phone calls, a deputy will be dispatched to check on them.
Although the sheriff’s office will be checking on individuals at this time, other agencies have expressed a desire to help. The sheriff’s office expects to eventually start taking volunteers to help with the program.
To add someone to the COAST checklist, call (606) 886-6711 or (606) 886-8965.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.