The Westborough Fire Department will launch a program next month using automated phone calls to check on residents who sign up for the program, with unanswered calls triggering a medical check.

The Are You OK? program places daily calls at a time selected by participating residents. If a resident does not answer the check-in call, a follow-up call will also be made at another predetermined time. If the person does not respond to the second call, the program alerts the dispatch center with information previously provided by the resident, such as a family member contacts and medical history, and dispatch will send responders to the home.

The Westborough Fire Department, the first town department trained as part of the Dementia-Friendly Westborough initiative, already has a secure lock box system at about 200 participating homes. The boxes hold house keys, so responders can enter the home if the resident does not answer the door.

Residents who register for Are You OK? will be able to take part in the secure lock box system as well.

When senior citizens sign up for the program, they will provide basic information and a photo, which goes into the police and fire departments’ automated dispatch system.

Fire Chief Patrick Purcell said the department already has the CodeRED alert system, which enable the department to broadcast messages to the public in case of an emergency. So dispatch will be able send a message and picture to the public and to all mobile terminals in police and fire vehicles if a person is determined to be missing.

“We’ve used that for other issues before and located people within 15 minutes,” Purcell said.

Purcell, Deputy Fire Chief Jason Ferschke and eight other people are currently part of the testing phase of Are You OK?. Purcell said the key is using Are You OK? in concert with the other technology it had, such as CodeRED and its dispatch software.

“It’s pretty robust, with a lot of accountability and a lot of follow through,” he said. “We didn’t invent anything new. We just merged a whole bunch of technologies together to serve one greater good.”

Written by Daniel DeMaina, Associate Editor