The Aberdeen police and fire departments have launched a new joint project to help provide assistance for residents that require assistance but may be unable to reach their door.
The program will provide lockboxes at no cost to residents so that emergency personnel are able to get inside without being forced to breach into the building, saving both time and doorframes.
“I’m excited. We wanted to make sure we had our ducks in a row before we got it up and running,” said Cmdr. Steve Timmons of the Aberdeen Police Department. “We hope it’s successful and people get good use out of it.”
The police department currently has 300 lockboxes, with a four-dial lock, which they will install at homes in the city for those applying for the program. The lockboxes were provided at a discount by the company, Rudy Run, when they heard of the intended use, Timmons said. The lockboxes were funded by a $5,000 grant from the Grays Harbor Community Foundation.
“Without the Grays Harbor Community Foundation and the generosity of Rudy Run it’s unlikely we would have been able to do this,” said APD Chief Dale Green in the news release. “Since our VIPS — Volunteers in Police Service — will be installing the safes and overseeing the project, we can make Aberdeen a safer city while expending no taxpayer dollars. Everybody wins.”
The initial idea came from police volunteer Doug Zimmer, Timmons said.
“He brought it up and we ran with it,” Timmons said. “He was kind of the front runner in making this happen.”
The fire and police will append the lockbox location and code so that emergency responders heading to a call at a location where one is installed will have that information, Timmons said. That information can make a difference in a situation where every moment counts because responders can use the key to open a door rather than being forced to breach — incidentally, saving the cost and inconvenience of repairs in the process.
“This is a great project,” said Aberdeen Fire Chief Dave Golding. “In emergency responses, time is critical. The faster responders can get into a residence, the more quickly we can render aid. With this project, responders will know where the key box is and what the code is when they arrive. That will save precious seconds, time that can be priceless in saving lives and reducing property damage.”
The project is geared towards residents who may be older or have trouble getting about, especially people with prior history of medical incidents or who live alone.
“We’ll look at each and every application,” Timmons said. “It’s geared toward priority first toward older or disabled residents.”
Installation will be done at no cost by members of the police department, Timmons said, working with the homeowner to put the lockbox somewhere inconspicuous.
“We’ll do it. We’ll work with the homeowners. We’re more than happy to install it for them. If they want to install it themselves, they can,” Timmons said. “I’ve had one of these (or something) pretty similar. They’re pretty sturdy.”
Timmons said providing assistance during medical calls is the only use the lockboxes would be put to.
“It’s only used for its intended purpose — if we get a call there and they’re unable to get to the door,” Timmons said. “That’s the only lawful purpose.”
Timmons said the APD hasn’t talked with other cities about launching their own version of the program yet.
The application is online at https://www.aberdeenwa.gov/439/APD-AFD-Lock-Box-Project or
https://forms.office.com/g/6yTNLJZwXG. For residents requiring assistance, Timmons said to call the department at 360-533-3180 and personnel would help walk applicants through it.
Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.