Brigade of ex-jawans rescue elders in distress

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 01, 2016 12:22 hrs
old age

Kolkata: Army jawan Saiful Alam saved many lives in his two decades of service and now after retirement, he has found another way to rescue those in trouble by being part of a small battalion of ex-servicemen who respond to a medical emergency whenever a senior citizen presses the alarm button on his smart-watch.

"My life has not changed after retirement. I still feel like an army jawan as I am serving a very important section of the society," the 40-year-old retired jawan, who has joined a Kolkata- based start-up 'Support Elders', told PTI.

Led by entrepreneur Apratim Chattopadhyay, the social enterprise specialises in providing at-home support for elders who live alone in the city and on the outskirts.

Their services include medical emergency alert solutions under which uniquely customised smart wrist watches are given to their members.

Running on a phone SIM card, the watch has an alarm button, which can trigger an SOS to their 24/7 call centre.

"The watch, imported from America, is such that you can also talk to us. The GPS tracking technology helps us find the exact location of the person if he or she is unable to talk under extreme medical emergencies," Chattopadhyay said.

Besides falling sick, elders also suffer the risk of a fall in bathrooms or on the staircase. In all such cases, they need immediate medical attention but those living alone or with an equally-old spouse, often find themselves helpless.

At this point, the brigade of ex-jawans is the first one to respond. 

The field staff of 'Support Elders' comprises only ex-army personnel, while their chief operating officer is a retired brigadier.

"Whenever there is any emergency situation or anything goes out of our hands, it is the Army which is always called in. These jawans retire early at an age of 35-45 years, but have much more left in them to contribute," the entrepreneur, who started the organisation last year, said.

The ex-jawans have a proven track record, physical fitness, disciplined life and require minimum training making them fit for the job.

Last December, Alam got a call from the company call centre and rushed to the upmarket South City apartments at midnight on his bike.

He was there in the elderly couple's flat in the next 10 minutes. Before the doctor could come, the first aid was done.

"I tested his sugar level and blood pressure. So when the doctor came he could act fast as he had everything ready," he said recalling the incident.

Not only during emergencies, the geriatric population also needs support for simpler things like buying medicines or groceries.

"We have a 78-year-old lady who lives alone in a South Kolkata apartment. She has a hearing problem and her only son lives outside. We help her ensure the local restaurant delivers her food on time daily," Chattopadhyay said.