Special Needs Registry
Multiple topics were addressed that
are part of the Illinois Premise Alert Program, or PAP, and the
voluntary registration of individuals in a database.
The first topic is the possibility that a resident in distress
may have supplemental oxygen stored in the home. A letter provided
by Memorial Home Services requested that those who have such a
supplement contact their local fire department or emergency response
department and inform those officials.
As an example, Fulscher said many people have oxygen in the home
for sleep apnea.
This information will also be used to ensure the safety of
responders as they enter a home. Terry Storer added as an example
that oxygen in tanks is a major fire hazard, as the tank contains
100 percent oxygen.
On a second topic, Fulscher also wanted to clear up any confusion
as to the language on the registration form. A blank space is
available for special needs.
"Logan County 911 has an agreement with the Logan County Health
Department called SNAP, or Special Needs Advisory Panel," said
Logan County 911 and the health department have worked together
to provide a comprehensive list for those who register. This list
contains mental and physical disabilities, and those who register
will be able to provide information on any conditions they have. The
health department has been a strong advocate of this database.
Michael Geriets, deputy chief for the Lincoln Police Department,
also spoke at the news conference. Geriets advocated the importance
of this registry and provided information on the officers trained in
Nearly 70 percent of Lincoln police are trained to deal with
individuals who may have a disability or behavioral issue. These
officers have been trained via a 40-hour course, and they learn how
to recognize when someone is mentally disabled, such as various
mental illnesses, medical issues that mimic mental disorders, or
side effects of medications.
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Geriets also provided statistics from a study at the University
of Tennessee, where this program began. The statistics state that
officer injuries decreased, arrest rates for the mentally ill
decreased and the use of force decreased when officers were
knowledgeable of an individualís mental state ahead of time.
"We want to recognize those issues so we are not taking
inappropriate action against somebody who has a mental health
disability," said Geriets. He added that he understands completely
if there are people who value keeping this information private, and
he reiterated that the registration is voluntary.
Mark Mann, supervisor for Logan County Dispatch, added that this
database will make it easier to help those calling from a cellular
phone. Nearly 88 percent of calls to dispatch come from a cellphone.
As a result, responders do not have an address to track the call
from, which would be provided via home phones.
Mann also said that emergency programs all over the country are
beginning to use such a database to better provide aid for those in
need. With this information in hand, responders will have a clearer
picture of the situation they are walking into and what kind of care
should be taken to ensure the safety of the caller.
All of the information would be provided voluntarily. Logan
County 911 would safeguard the information, transmitting it to
response teams in emergency situations.
Steve Siltman of the Logan County Paramedic Association echoed
the importance of this knowledge being part of such a database.
Fulscher said questions and requests for registration forms can
be directed to Logan County 911. Registration can also be completed
at fire departments in Logan County. Registration will have to be
resubmitted every 24 months in order to provide updated information.
Updates may be submitted 30 days after initial registration.
[By DEREK HURLEY]