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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Database for First Responders

The San Diego County Sheriff has an innovative way of dealing with the often-problematic interaction with first responders and people with autism and other disabilities. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

The regional law enforcement database identifies those with autism, dementia or other mental disabilities in the region and lets officers know how to best deal with their disabilities when encounters occur.

“For any kind of first-responder, they know that when they get there, they’re going to find something a little bit different,” said Cary, president of the local Autism Society of America chapter.

The program also makes it easier to find lost or missing at-risk people and uses facial recognition software to identify those who cannot speak or have dementia.

Reports of missing at-risk individuals have increased by 12 percent over the past year, the Sheriff’s Department reported. Also, six in every 10 Alzheimer’s patients will wander off at some point in their disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Brian Herritt, a police officer at Palomar College, came up with the idea for the program after his own autistic son, also named Brian, wandered off one day as he was unloading groceries.

The Autism Society of America has more here on the program, "Take Me Home."