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Mon Valley officials urge use of alert stickers for those with special needs

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Thursday, May 15, 2014, 3:51 a.m.
 

The Allegheny County District Attorney's office is offering a new premise alert program to families and households with special needs members.

The program is designed to alert police and other first responders when they are called to residences where they may encounter individuals with physical challenges, mental health issues or intellectual disabilities.

The program establishes a registry that lets dispatchers notify first responders that a special needs person may be present at a given address.

It provides training for emergency personnel, as well as informational materials and identification stickers for front doors and vehicles for registrants.

Households can register through all local police departments, according to the district attorney's office.

At a recent meeting in Homestead, borough police Chief Jeff DeSimone encouraged residents to take advantage of the free program.

“We are dealing more and more with people with special needs,” the chief said.

Knowing in advance that a person may not be able to understand or communicate with police can help protect the safety of all parties involved, he said, and potentially prevent emergency situations from escalating.

Households or families registering for the program are asked to list a description of the special needs person with details that could aid in a rescue.

DeSimone said registration forms have been available at the borough police station for several weeks and one household has registered.

“They're welcome to come down and get these packets,” said DeSimone, adding that forms are available through the county.

Three local municipalities — McKeesport, Munhall and Elizabeth — and 10 countywide recently began participating in the district attorney's Project Lifesavers program.

Project Lifesavers uses bracelets equipped with radio transmitters to help locate people with cognitive conditions should they become lost.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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