Posted on January 7, 2016
Now that Kent has joined Sussex and New Castle counties in offering people the option of creating their own profile within the 9-1-1 system that would inform first responders of their special support needs, there’s really no good reason for Delaware residents to be without this Smart911 service.
Not sure if you can afford it? You can. It’s free.
Concerned about the possibility of identity theft? Loss of privacy? You wouldn’t be the only one. “Big Brother has enough information about me through GPS tracking of my cellphone, microchips in my credit cards, and the Internet,” a skeptic told me the other day. “Now this!” Except the information that gets entered in the Smart 911 system is private and secure. It lies dormant and out of reach in a secure database until it’s needed. Even the dispatcher doesn’t have access until the information is needed.
All that remains, then, are multiple reasons to act smart and sign up for Smart911. On the one hand, it can be used by anyone to provide first responders with advance information concerning, say, how many people live at a residence and the location of bedrooms within one’s home. That could be extremely helpful to paramedics or firefighters responding to a call for help.
For people with disabilities, Smart911 has considerably more to offer. People with physical disabilities could let first responders know in their profile that they would need special equipment to vacate their home in an emergency. People with developmental disabilities who have difficulty communicating verbally – people with autism, for example – also could benefit from this service. So could people with medical conditions, such as epilepsy, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s. Senior citizens who live alone could find any number of uses for Smart911.
As a former police officer, I appreciate Smart 911’s extraordinary potential. The technology can ensure the safety of, and improve services for, people who may need it the most. I encourage all who may have special considerations during an emergency to sign up for the Smart911 system in your area. It only takes a few minutes to enroll and may be the difference between life and death.
To sign up and create your free Smart911 profile please visit: https://www.smart911.com
For more information on the New Smart911 system please visit: http://www.nccde.org/822/smart911
This entry was posted in accessibility, autism, community living, developmental disabilities, Health and Wellness, physical disabilities, Uncategorized and tagged first responders, Kent County, New Castle County, Smart911, Sussex County.
Posted on August 21, 2015
This couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council, local law enforcement agencies, and the attorney general’s office have joined forces to bring much needed Crisis Intervention Team training to The First State.
CIT’s objective? To help law enforcement officers better understand the challenges that the intellectual and developmental disabilities communities face when it comes to interactions with law enforcement offers. It’s a matter of safety … for the IDD communities, of course, but also for law enforcement officers.
My current job at the Delaware Division of Developmental Disabilities Services has me implementing statewide training programs for various direct support professionals. But for 12 years I was a police officer, in North Carolina, and it pains me each time I read about unfortunate incidents involving cops and people with disabilities. These incidents are happening too frequently – one time, actually, to my mind, is one time too many – and my instincts and experience tell me that many of them likely didn’t have to result in such outcomes.
Some are impossible to forget, as when Ethan Saylor, a man with Down syndrome, reportedly suffocated to death while handcuffed by off-duty deputies working as security guards in a Maryland movie theater. Others recently happened, such as when a Kentucky school resource officer, on a seven-minutes-long video, cuffed a crying eight-year-old boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at the biceps, behind his back.
Part of the general problem I see begins with how law enforcement officers are taught in academies that officer safety is the most important aspect of their job. Hence, the ability to return home in the same condition as when they left for work that day is on the minds of every police officer as they respond to a call for service. But at what cost?
Here in Delaware, as in any state, situations may arise where an officer responds to a call in which an individual with IDD is present, and, where the person with IDD may not react promptly and properly to the officer’s command or, even, to the officer’s question.
One could imagine any number of scenarios in which such a situation might escalate into a difficult or threatening one for everyone involved. If the person with IDD doesn’t respond speedily or appropriately to the officer – not because the person with IDD intentionally wishes to be non-compliant but, perhaps, because it’s taking him or her longer to process the officer’s directive – the law enforcement officer might feel the person is purposefully resisting arrest or planning to harm the officer. In response, the officer could act out.
On the other hand, the person with IDD might feel that the officer who’s shouting commands will cause him or her harm. Consequently, the person with IDD could react in a manner that causes the law enforcement officer to feel threatened.
Officers educated about IDD and trained in how to respond to people with IDD should be able to effectively and benignly navigate such situations, however. And that’s the outcome CIT training is designed to bring about. CIT teaches law enforcement officers that any number of people with IDD may not respond to their demands in a timely manner. And they’re taught how that fact shouldn’t compromise the officers’ safety. On the contrary, their appreciation of it should produce this positive result: The officers will come to understand that people within the IDD community are more like them than unlike them; the difference, in many cases, being as simple as the manner and speed in which information is processed.
Better-trained law-enforcement personnel will be better able to exercise sound judgement in situations involving people with IDD. And in Delaware, that increasingly will be thanks to CIT. We soon should see a safer environment for both the IDD communities and law enforcement officers.
This entry was posted in developmental disabilities, intellectual Disabilities, law enforcement, Uncategorized and tagged CIT, Crisis Intervention Team training, Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council, Delaware Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, Down syndrome, Ethan Saylor, IDD, Kentucky school resource officer.