Program saves life, Floyd County sheriff named Red Cross Hero

Every year, the Red Cross and WSLS 10 honor a member of law enforcement for their efforts serving the community.

The 2018 hero is the sheriff of Floyd County, who implemented a lifesaving program shortly after getting elected.

“What can we do for folks that don't have family or friends around here that kind of keep in contact daily?” said Sheriff Brian Craig.

The answer to that question is the reason Delores Hammett was able to be sitting in her living room, alive and well, talking with us.

Craig started the Rise and Shine program to conduct daily checkups on those like Hammett, with a morning phone call.

“There are those in our community that just don't have that network of family around them and that's what we want to be is that family for them,” Craig said.

Rise and Shine is simple.

Dispatchers call each participant around 9 a.m. to make sure they're OK.

If, after the third call, there's no answer, a deputy is dispatched to the person's home. 

It didn't take long for the small gesture to have a big impact.

“This program that he has, I would not be sitting here today if (it) were not for his program,” Hammett said.

One morning in July 2017, Hammett didn't answer her three phone calls.

“I didn't know I had pneumonia and I didn't know I was going to have a heart attack and when they called the third time and I didn't answer, they were in my bedroom, hauling me out and calling rescue,” Hammett said.

She was taken to Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where she spent several days recovering.

To her surprise, she even got a call while in the hospital.

“How many people have their sheriff call them when they're in the hospital?” she asked.        

Craig and dispatchers have come to look forward to interacting with the Rise and Shine participants.

“At first, when we looked at it, I worried about what our communications folks would say: ‘Oh, you're adding this extra call on us every day.’ They really enjoy it. They get in there and just this 30-second to a minute conversation to these folks and they've really got this connection, this bond with our folks on the Rise and Shine program,” said Craig.

“I feel secure, I feel safe,” said Hammett. “Every morning, when it comes close to 9 o'clock, I don't do anything. I don't feed the dogs. I don't feed the cats. I'm waiting for that phone call.”

While Craig was surprised that his idea so quickly saved a life, he said he’s not a hero.

Hammett argues otherwise, however.

“Brian takes so much of that fear out of my life, so that I can live normally,” she said.

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