01 August 2019 0 Comments Posted By : Tom Steepe

Municipal police forces on P.E.I. take 'big step forward' with MedicAlert partnership

Municipal police forces in Charlottetown, Summerside and Kensington have a new tool to help them find and assist people in emergency situations.

Those forces have partnered with MedicAlert Foundation Canada, becoming the first police agencies in Atlantic Canada to provide officers with access to the organization's database of critical medical information when responding to emergencies.

Subscribers to MedicAlert can enter their medical information or that of a family member into a database.

When an emergency arises, a police officer or hospital staff can look up a person's MedicAlert identification number to instantly get details about how to help them.

'Certainly going to help'

"It's a big step forward for us in P.E.I.," said Kensington police Chief Lewis Sutherland. "In our area, we have a lot of seniors, a lot of tourists every day and we do have issues and this is certainly going to help us."

Each subscriber's emergency profile includes details like physical descriptions, wandering history, and behaviour management strategies like anxiety triggers and de-escalation techniques. 

"Imagine having a tourist wander off somewhere and us being able to check a database right across the nation and be able to help this person reconnect with their loves ones," said Summerside police Chief Dave Poirier.

Police agencies on P.E.I. have become to the first in Atlantic Canada to bring MedicAlert Connect Protect to their respective communities. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The database also provides important medical information about people living with autism, Alzheimer's, dementia, mental-health related issues and cognitive brain injuries that could help first responders in an emergency.

"They will also have access to a photo, a recent photo, so they can identify and they will be aware of any medication or any other health information that can be helpful in such cases," said Francoise Faverjon of MedicAlert Canada.

"Time is always very important when you're in an emergency situation, especially if a child or an individual has wandered off," said Jenna Kenny of the Autism Society of P.E.I. 

MedicAlert is a paid service people can subscribe to. Nearly 5,000 Islanders have already paid the annual fee of $60 to register.

'Get the person home safely'

The new information will help officers prevent violent situations from developing, and provides de-escalation techniques catered to the particular person.

"It could be things like that flashing lights on our patrol cars could be something that escalate someone," said Charlottetown police Chief Paul Smith. "There could just be word phrases that would help you to de-escalate something and have someone lower that anxiety level and come with the officers."

Police will have access to a subscriber's medical profile 24/7, giving first responders through their dispatcher, critical information in an emergency. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The database will also have information that will help first responders with what they should say or what they should avoid saying when time is of the essence in an emergency situation.

"It can always be dangerous, especially if you're close to traffic or water," said Kenny.

"Having a MedicAlert bracelet where an individual in a community maybe has come across the person or whether it's a first responder as well, then at least they have a phone number they can call, have access to information, so they can get the person home safely."

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