Reports show Americans age 55 and older will double
between now and the year 2030. This phenomenon
will affect each and every county in our state.
As our senior population increases in record
numbers, so do issues related to addressing the
needs of isolated, lonely, at risk and financially
challenged seniors. The challenge to address
these needs falls on all of us.
Approximately ten years ago Wilson County Sheriff
Terry Ashe recognized the need to be proactive in
regard to addressing these needs for seniors in
Wilson County. He recognized that repeatedly
through the years law enforcement personnel would be
asked to make welfare checks on these seniors.
Unfortunately sometimes these visits would reveal
seniors who were lacking adequate food, water, heat,
were seriously ill or injured and some even
deceased. He felt a more pro-active approach
was needed to identify who these seniors were and a
plan put into place to better check on them on a
regular basis and address their needs. In
talking to patrol officers, County Commissioners,
political figures, Directors of Senior Citizens
Centers, AARP, WEMA and medical professionals he
found collective concern for these citizens, and the
feeling that valuable resources in the community
were being tied up in making these calls.
initiated the Senior Citizens
Awareness Network Program (SCAN) as
a volunteer group operating under
the umbrella of the Wilson County
Sheriff's Office. He
immediately received support for
this venture from local health care
facilities and members of the
private sector. This venture
would organize a group of trained
uniformed volunteers who would go
out on a regular basis in a
specially marked county patrol car
and make routine visits. The
volunteers would be trained in such
areas as department/program policy
and procedures, basic first aid and
CPR, home security, radio procedure
and education regarding local and
community social services and
programs. If upon entering a home volunteers find an emergency
situation, normal 911 procedures
would be followed.
courtesy of Larry McCormack/The
The names of these seniors could be submitted to the Sheriff's Office from
family members, churches or other
local community services or
programs. A recipient file
would be created that would contain
information such as address, phone
contact information, pertinent
medical information, emergency
contact information along with
information about current services
received in the home. These
individuals would be educated about
the services provided thru the SCAN
program and given contact
information for reaching the
Sheriff's Office. They would
then be placed on a regular visit
schedule. Recipients would be
contacted the day prior to a
scheduled visit to confirm the next
day's visit. If upon the
actual visit volunteers encounter a
problem such as no answer at the
door or unanswered phone calls then
the emergency contact person would
be phoned to verify well being.
If after exhausting all avenues to
confirm wellness, the Sheriff's
office SCAN coordinator would be
contacted to decide on forced entry
by law enforcement
The program volunteers do a safety and security
check making note of the presence or absence of
smoke detectors and or carbon monoxide detectors,
adequate locks and outside lighting. They
discuss crime prevention and have available printed
pamphlet on crimes that specifically target seniors.
Volunteers address the need for heaters or air
conditioners, food, water or other basic
necessities. The program networks when
appropriate with local businesses, social services
and community agencies when a need arises that the
program cannot meet.
While all the above services are of true value
consistently, the single most important aspect is
the actual visit. Volunteer's taking the time
to sit and visit on a regular basis is the
foundation of the program. This single aspect
keeps the senior connected to their community.
Interaction with individuals outside the family
nucleus proves to bring to their lives an
understanding that their community is interested in
their well being.
Another successful aspect of the current program is
the Victim Outreach Program. This program
brings to our attention seniors in our county that
have become the victim of a crime. When the
investigation is completed by the department the
information regarding the individual is forwarded to
the SCAN coordinator and along with the director it
is reviewed for possible inclusion into the program.
The senior is contacted by a personal visit and
educated as to the programs purpose and given the
opportunity to join. It has been a very
successful addition to the program and helps to
reestablish a sense of safety and security after the
trauma of the original crime.
Currently the Wilson County Sheriff's Office SCAN
program continues to thrive and be a very successful
program in Wilson County. It is funded by
private donations. The volunteer uniforms are
provided thru the Sheriff's Office along with gas
and the specially marked patrol cruisers.
The program currently services 95 seniors all across
Wilson County, while most receive regular visits by
a team of SCAN officers, some are on a "call only"
list per their request.
them by calling 615-444-1412, extension 499.