2020-06-17

Police, MedicAlert partnership to benefit vulnerable populations in Bridgewater

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>Bridgewater Police Service Chief, Scott Feener.</p>

The Bridgewater Police Service has another instrument at its disposal to help protect the town's most vulnerable populations.

Main Street of the South Shore law enforcement is among 10 municipal police departments in the province participating in the Connect Protect, a partnership with MedicAlert.

The concept gives police 24-hour secure access to MedicAlert's health information database of subscribers, which offers details such as emergency contact information, photograph and physical description. Authorities would also see the subject's behavioural history; for example, whether or not the person is known to wander.

Bridgewater Police Chief Scott Feener called Connect Protect another tool in the law enforcement toolbox.

"It gives us a greater chance of obtaining more details faster; it speeds up the investigation," the senior officer told LighthouseNOW.

Police officers, such as ones in Bridgewater, have specialized access to "a visual cue for individuals who have cognitive diagnoses, mental health conditions or other disabilities that make it difficult to speak for themselves in an emergency," MedicAlert said in a statement.

Feener said a provincial association of police chiefs was approached about the idea and it was an easy choice to get involved.

He said it's a good complement with Project Lifesaver (PL).

PL is a separate program and unrelated concept from what MedicAlert offers. PL 's clients with autism, Alzheimer or other medical challenges, wear a personalized bracelet equipped with a radio transmitter. Search-and-rescue (SAR) agencies equipped with the radio frequency technology are dispatched to help track down the client's signal.

It all comes back to the time factor. There's no waiting for SAR to arrive, nor contacting family or friends of a missing person for reference material, such as images. It's real-time, Feener said.

MedicAlert, a registered Canadian charity, said the service "also offers behaviour management strategies such as anxiety triggers and de-escalation techniques."

The director of the Connect Protect program Catherine Horlock, said it's a concept from a reputable source.

"Our partnership with Nova Scotia police services provides a trusted solution and additional layer of protection as well as peace of mind for individuals and their loved ones," she said in a statement.

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