Burnet County TRIAD works to keep seniors safe and independent

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BURNET — Most people enjoy their independence, but as individuals age, that becomes more of an issue. Yet one group wants to help seniors remain as independent as possible in a safe manner and offers a connection through the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office in order to do it.

For more than a decade, TRIAD of Burnet County has offered senior citizens a program that allows them to call for help if they have a home emergency. It’s called the Sheriff’s Telephone Activated Response (STAR) Line Service.

“One of the things we do at TRIAD is make the medical alert pendant and base unit available to senior citizens in Burnet County,” said Tex Copsetta, the president of the organization. The pendant and base unit cost about $575. “But if a person cannot afford it, TRIAD provides it.”

TRIAD works as a liaison between elderly residents and local law enforcement. Copsetta said part of its mission is to provide services that help senior citizens remain safe and independent.

The STAR Line offers senior citizens a way to remain independent at home but still have a way to contact the sheriff’s office in case of an emergency. Copsetta said the pendant only works within 100 feet of the base unit, so it’s not effective when outside the home or immediate area.

“But typically, when senior citizens are out, they’re with somebody else,” he said.

The STAR Line connects with the county 911 and emergency dispatch, so when the person presses it, the individual’s phone automatically calls the the sheriff’s office. A dispatch officer will answer the call, determine what the problem is and send the appropriate response, if necessary. If the individual presses the pendant but can’t speak, the dispatcher will send a deputy or other personnel to check on the caller.

Neither TRIAD nor the sheriff’s office charges a monthly fee for the service, but the individual pays a normal monthly phone service and connection fee.

“It’s one of those things that give people who live alone or have health concerns a little peace of mind,” Copsetta said. “It’s also nice for the family members to know if their parent or elderly relative does live by him or herself, there’s a way to get help if it’s needed.”

Along with the STAR Line, TRIAD and the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office also sponsor the Are You OK (RUOK) program.

Copsetta said RUOK sets up a daily phone call from the sheriff’s office to the recipient just to check on the individual.

“If you’re on the list, the sheriff’s office makes a call to that number once a day — at a time set up by the recipient — to check and make sure you’re OK,” he said. “If they don’t get an answer, they’ll send a deputy or somebody to check on you.”

The RUOK system is available for seniors, homebound residents and even latch-key children.

While those are two programs TRIAD helps support, Copsetta said maintaining them and making sure any senior who needs a STAR Line pendant and base unit who can’t afford one gets one relies on the community’s support. As a nonprofit and 501(c)3, donations are tax-deductible.

TRIAD holds fundraisers throughout the year including Burnet Gunfighters events, but donations are always welcome. Copsetta added anybody can attend the monthly meetings, which are the first Monday of the month (with the exception of January and a few others) at 10 a.m. at the sheriff’s office, 1601 E. Polk St. (Texas 29) in Burnet.

“You’re only giving up about a hour a month eight times out of the year for a great program,” he said.

Check out the TRIAD of Burnet County’s Facebook page or website at sites.google.com/site/triadofburnetcounty/home for more information.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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