SHIRLEY — When a Wayside Trailer Park resident called Fire and Police departments Friday morning about a possible problem with emergency access, fire Chief Dennis Levesque and police Chief Gregory Massak were quick to respond.
Levesque and Massak went to Wayside, off Clark Road, where they checked out the situation and spoke to the whistle-blower, Martha Campbell. Campbell is the Groton Council on Aging director.
Campbell said the narrow roads in the privately-owned, over-55 housing complex, called Wayside Estates, had not been plowed out after the latest snowstorm a couple days earlier. There was more snow expected Saturday.
Campbell was home sick Friday, so she was in no hurry to get out. But there’s a big difference between being home sick and being snowbound. Worse, what if emergency vehicles couldn’t get in?
“I’m a young senior here,” said Campbell, a youthful 60-something and active. Other residents in the 70-plus units are less mobile and more vulnerable. Some are in their 80s or 90s, she said, and some are disabled.
“Nobody has plowed. Vacant homes are not dug out,” she said. “We’re all snowed in.”
Police logs typically show a notable number of emergency and ambulance calls there.
On Friday morning, Campbell said her calls to Wayside Estates Management were not returned. A reporter’s call to property manager Harry Dumont was also not returned.
Levesque had better luck.
Before calling the Wayside manager, he assessed the situation on site and determined that a fire truck could enter the complex to reach residents.
“I took a truck over there,” he said. “It’s tight, but we could drive through the streets.”
But the snow-packed roads could use a wider cut, with another storm on the way.
“I spoke to the property manager and recommended widening the road,” Levesque said. The manager agreed to dispatch a crew right away.
Townwide, the Fire Department had not responded to storm-related problems, Levesque said, such as roofs collapsing under the weight of snow. He also said firefighters and residents have shoveled out all the fire hydrants.
Massak arrived at 12:15 p.m.
“We met the fire chief there,” he said.
Campbell was grateful that the Fire and Police departments responded so promptly. But she still had concerns about seniors who won’t or can’t call when they are in trouble. As Groton’s COA director, addressing such issues is part of her job.
“I can call the Groton police and fire chiefs any time to check on someone,” she said, such as a frail elderly person who might be alone.
The Council on Aging is part of a senior safety net called TRIAD, she said. Coordinated by the County Sheriff’s office, the concept is similar to community teams set up under Federal Emergency Management Agency and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, she said. At monthly TRIAD meetings, representatives from COA, Police and Fire departments and nursing services discuss emergency strategies, identify seniors at risk and map outreach plans, Campbell said.
“We generate a list of seniors in need,” she explained. The database is updated frequently.
Massak, who in addition to his job as police chief works as a patrol officer on the day shift, said he was aware of TRIAD but has not attended a meeting.
Shirley police check in on a resident’s well-being on request, but he has no list of at-risk seniors or an emergency action plan specific to their needs, Massak said. His conduit to senior safety issues in town is Shirley Council on Aging Director John Oelfke.
“I talk to John,” he said. Like Campbell, Oelfke knows he can always call.