NAUGATUCK — Every morning when Susan Natowich gets up, she phones the Naugatuck Police Department.
No, she doesn’t have an ongoing problem with trespassers or burglars, nor is she on parole and required to check in.
She’s participating in Good Morning Naugatuck, the department’s program to help seniors and others in need by making sure they’re well every morning.
Participants phone in before 10:00 a.m. every day. If the police don’t hear from someone on their list, they’ll call their house as well as listed emergency contacts to evaluate the situation.
Administrative Lieutenant Bob Harrison said often they won’t get calls, but most of the time it’s a simple matter of forgetfulness.
Occasionally, though, calls to a senior’s house go unanswered and emergency contacts don’t know why. In this case, a patrolman is sent to that person’s home to assist them in any way needed. Often police will knock on neighbors’ doors to see if perhaps the participant was seen leaving the house.
“We’ve been known to go to stores or hairdressers to track them down,” Harrison said.
Otherwise police will enter the home to see what assistance is needed.
The most common problem is participants who fall and cannot get up.
“It’s very much a help … and gives me peace of mind,” Natowich said, “On several occasions I’ve fallen” and the police helped by identifying the problem and getting an ambulance.
Harrison told the story of one participant who had fallen down the stairs the previous night and was helped in the morning when she didn’t answer Good Morning Naugatuck calls.
Dispatchers Kelly Orsini and Diane Dutton handle the program every morning, and Harrison says the only drawback to the service is that callers often seem lonely and might want to chat— but the police lines must be kept open for emergency calls.
Dutton also said that it’s hard not to get personally involved with program participants, and if something happens to them, the news might have a depressing effect.
“These people are like my aunts,” Dutton quipped. “I talk to them more than I talk to my mother.”
Harrison said the feedback for the program has been entirely positive.