Do you know anyone who suffers from a condition like Alzheimer’s or Dementia, or someone who has a disability like Autism or Down’s Syndrome? These medical conditions affect millions of Americans and pose certain risks in various situations. Most commonly, these types of issues interfere with someone’s ability to verbally communicate and can encourage wandering behavior. When a loved one goes missing, it’s all hands on deck. Communities across the nation are searching for a better system of tracking vulnerable individuals, and we’re proud to say that we’re taking steps to become a leader in community protection.
SafeEncounter is ImageSoft’s newest product, designed to help Law Enforcement protect the most vulnerable members of the community. SafeEncounter is a community database that stores user-submitted profiles of at-risk dependents for first responders to refer to in times of crisis. For many with intellectual disabilities or cognitive conditions, communication can be difficult or impossible. When the individual cannot let police know important details, SafeEncounter can.
Who can benefit from the SafeEncounter program? Let’s take a look at four examples.
A Family with An Autistic Child
The Jameson family consists of Tracy, Steve, Fiona, and Tyler. Tyler is seven years old and is Autistic. The Jamesons just moved into their new house, and they don’t know anyone in the area yet. A big change like moving houses is overstimulating for Tyler, and he’s been more on edge than usual. Afraid that non-verbal Tyler might wander off to go exploring and get lost, the Jameson family is in need of a community protection program. Because the Jamesons are new to the area, they can’t even rely on neighbors spotting and reporting Tyler as he passes by.
In this case, SafeEncounter would be a big help. Tracy and Steve could register Tyler in the SafeEncounter database, letting the police in their new hometown know about his disability. Should little Tyler go missing, officers will have a physical description and pictures to use to locate him. They would also have access to the Henson address and phone numbers to bring Tyler home as quickly as possible. SafeEncounter ensures that first responders can properly deal with the situation without further upsetting Tyler in the process.
A Nursing Home
Solutions for nursing homes are key to improving community protection. The Friendly Nursing Home is a live-in facility housing elderly citizens who may or may not have intellectual disabilities. Every afternoon, residents are allowed to explore the grounds while under the watch of a staff member. The residents head outside as usual, but Ethel trips and falls. The staff on duty goes to help her and check her over, not keeping close watch on the other residents for a few minutes. Tom, a Veteran with Alzheimer’s wanders outside the yard, believing he knows the way to his son’s house. By the time the staff members get Ethel situated, Tom is down the road out of sight.
Tom can easily be identified and brought back to the nursing home if he is registered with SafeEncounter. Responding officers will have all the information they need to return Tom without stressing him out. Up-to-date photos provide visual reference for officers, and locations of interest can help them determine where Tom might have wandered towards. A detailed description of his condition will provide officers with the tools to de-escalate a situation, gain Tom’s trust, and help to return him back home.
Special Education Classes or Groups
Community protection extends beyond just family and household to include groups and schools with parental permission. A+ Academy has several classes dedicated entirely to special education students. The teachers and aides are trained in intellectual disabilities and understand the importance of community protection. Samantha, a little girl with Down’s Syndrome was playing outside at recess when she noticed a butterfly. She followed it out of the designated play area, unnoticed by the staff who were busy watching the other fifteen children in the class. Samantha realizes she has wandered off, but she’s not sure how to get back. She walks down the road to a nearby lady gardening on her front lawn. Knowing the little girl is clearly in need of some help, the kind lady tries to ask Samantha for information, but the little girl isn’t able to respond.
If Samantha is registered with SafeEncounter through her special education classroom, police in the area have her information. In a situation like this, officers would almost certainly get calls from both the school and the good Samaritan. Using descriptions on file, the responding officers can quickly confirm that the wandering girl is Samantha, and can safely return her to her class. Even if the lady had called before the school noticed Samantha’s absence, the police would have the class as an emergency contact and could quickly solve the issue.
The Sister of a Woman with Schizophrenia
Mary is the older sister of Ella, a woman who suffers from Schizophrenia. One day, Mary gets a call that Ella has left her home and is nowhere to be seen. Mary calls the police to report her sister missing and informs them that she has a severe mental health condition. At the same time, Norman from several blocks over answers his doorbell to find a manic and confused woman on his porch. She is unable to speak clearly but is terrified and needs help. Norman has no way of knowing who this woman is, so he contacts local police.
Because Ella has a SafeEncounter profile, police can identify her quickly. Mary can easily give details about her sister, but Norman is not so lucky. In both cases, a physical description of Ella would be extremely valuable to the responding officers. It’s one of the most reliable ways to identify a missing person. In Ella’s case, the medical information section of her profile will be important, especially for the police responding to Norma’s call. All Norman knows is that the woman is non-verbal and clearly confused. He cannot provide any insight as to what Ella is suffering from. SafeEncounter gives the officers advice about how to calm Ella down that they wouldn’t have known otherwise. This way, no one gets hurt and there is as little stress as possible for all involved.
As you can see, community protection is a far-reaching “industry.” Intellectual disabilities and non-verbal disorders can really put loved ones at risk of getting lost with no way to contact home. SafeEncounter is a program developed with all of the aforementioned examples in mind, as well as any other dependent who might need an advocate during an emergency. The platform is voluntary to join and gives family members the power to choose which districts can access information. Responding officers in authorized districts can pull up the SafeEncounter database from their vehicle to search by description, location, age, and more. Your loved one will be returned home safely and you’ll know you can put your trust in local law enforcement.
Learn more about SafeEncounter at https://safeencounter.org/. Feel free to reach out to our team with any questions or to schedule a custom demo.