Interim Chief of Police
110 Loon Hill Road
Dracut, MA 01826
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Dracut Police Department Enhances Alert Program for Those with Dementia and Special Needs
DRACUT — Interim Police Chief Neil Ouellette announces that the Dracut Police Department has enhanced its program to help protect those with dementia, cognitive delays and other health issues within the community.
The Dracut Alert Program is a rapid response system designed to locate cognitively impaired residents at risk for wandering or becoming lost. Participants’ personal identifying information is placed on file with the 911 emergency center to assist Police/Fire/EMS in locating the person swiftly. It also gives first responders vital medical information about a citizen who may be unable to communicate these concerns at the time of the emergency.
Information given to police includes pictures, locations the person is known to visit frequently, medications, and medical history — such as health problems, cognitive delays, vision or hearing impairments. The database is private, confidential and will only be used in an emergency.
The newly revamped program comes after a Dracut resident went missing for three days in October. The Police Department collaborated with the Council on Aging and Fire Department to update forms and tear sheets, which they, along with the Lowell General Hospital – Saints Campus, distributed throughout town to best ensure all community members were notified of the program.
By pre-planning with family members, the program makes it easier for authorities to locate loved ones who go missing, which is especially imperative during the first few minutes and hours.
“When someone from one of our vulnerable populations goes missing, it is crucial for the police department and other public safety agencies to begin their search immediately, utilizing all the relevant information available,” Chief Ouellette said. “The Dracut Alert Program will reduce the amount of time it takes to locate these people, and I encourage anyone with an at-risk family member to plan for this by registering.”
The Massachusetts Silver Alert Law, passed in 2010 and modeled after the Amber Alert, requires that adults with severe dementia who may have wandered and gotten lost be treated as a missing person regardless of how long they have been missing. These missing persons must be treated as high-risk and police departments must respond as such. The Dracut Alert Program will provide law enforcement officials with the necessary tools to attempt to locate these people more quickly by having the necessary information on file.
To register a loved one for the Dracut Alert Program, visit the Dracut Police Department’s 911 center. For more information, contact Kate Charron at the Dracut Police Department at 978-957-2123 ext. 1161 or the Dracut Council on Aging at 978-957-2611.
Those who have signed up for the Dracut Alert Program should immediately notify police if a resident is lost and is a participant in the program.