Mail carriers become familiar with the neighborhoods along their route in a unique way that few others do. They know the residents of each home, if only by a name and address on an envelope, and they naturally learn the patterns and rhythms of the folks who live on each block.
So when something is amiss, post workers are sometimes the first person to notice. Postal carrier Kayla Berridge noticed something wasn’t right at one of the houses on her route, and she took steps that saved a resident’s life.
According to CNN, on January 27, Berridge noticed that the mail had been piling up for four days at one particular resident’s home in Newmarket, New Hampshire. The resident was in her 80s and sometimes chatted with Berridge as she made her deliveries.
“I hadn’t seen her in a while and I noticed her mail wasn’t getting picked up, so I got a little concerned,” Berridge told CNN.
Berridge followed her instinct and called for a wellness check on the home. She made the right decision. The elderly woman inside the house had been trapped on her bedroom floor for at least three days, according to a report from the Newmarket Police Department.
Police Lieutenant Wayne Stevens told CNN that the first detective at the scene could barely hear a woman calling for help when he knocked on the door. Stevens and another officer were able to gain entry to the home, where they found the woman on the floor, under household items including artwork and frames. They believe she tried to grab her bed for support when the items on the bed fell on her.
The woman, who was unidentified, was taken to a hospital. She was diagnosed with and treated for hypothermia and dehydration. She remains in the hospital, but her family said she is stable and recovering.
This is the first time in four years as a mail carrier that Berridge has had to call for a wellness check for a home on her route. She said she looks for mail piling up, no outgoing mail, or a car parked in a driveway for long periods of time without moving to determine if she needs to call for someone to check on a house.
“Newmarket is a great little town,” Berridge told CNN. “Everyone has each other’s backs.”
Wellness checks can also be used by people who are located far away from the person they’re concerned about. For example, if you live in a distant city but your loved one hasn’t answered your calls, texts, or other attempts to communicate for longer than usual or you have reason to believe they may be injured or incapacitated, you can call their local sheriff’s office and ask for a wellness check at their address. An officer(s) will then go to their home, knock several times on the door, then enter the home if they receive no response. If the person is hurt or deceased, they will notify the proper authorities, then notify you and wait for you to arrive.
When calls for wellness checks are made in time and for the right reasons, they can save lives.
“Without a doubt, she saved this lady’s life,” Stevens said. “That’s part of being a letter carrier in a small town and taking your job to the next level. She did a great job.”