Cumberland kicks off revamped reassurance program

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CUMBERLAND – The Cumberland Fire Department has taken the reins of the town’s reassurance program and looks to broaden it to serve as many residents as possible, its chief said last week.

The revamp is also a means of creating a more consistent service for Cumberland’s program subscribers, according to Chief Daniel Small.

The program has a tally of subscribers who tend to be elderly, have medical conditions or live alone. The residents are asked to call the fire department between 9 and 10 a.m. each day and report that they are okay. The department will try to contact residents that haven’t called by 10 a.m. In some cases, a police officer will be sent to check on the residents if they cannot be reached.

The program was created about 10 years ago. It was originally run out of Cumberland’s public safety dispatch center. After Cumberland County assumed dispatch services over a year ago, the county said it lacked the staff to run the reassurance program. The service has since reverted to Cumberland, which sometimes uses the police department secretary to field the calls.

While the program once had more than 12 subscribers, that number has now dwindled to two.

The department has reserved about 10 Knox-Boxes for the program. The Knox-Boxes contain a spare key to the homes of residents enrolled in the program.

Since the reassurance program boxes are town property, they go back to the town for use by another subscriber should the current subscriber no longer be part of the reassurance program.

“We have one key that fits all the Knox-Boxes around town,” Small said.

He noted that the program does not replace 911; it’s an additional safeguard to ensure that the program’s participants are doing all right from day to day.

Small recalled a recent case in Falmouth where a reassurance program subscriber hadn’t called in; the responding officer found a woman who had fallen on the floor and was able to get her treatment.

People interested in subscribing or inquiring about the program can call the fire department at 829-5421.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or [email protected].

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.