British Columbia

Police in Greater Vancouver have a new resource to better assist medically challenged residents

Three B.C. police departments have partnered with MedicAlert so they can quickly access vital information about subscribers from the emergency service provider's database.

3 B.C. police departments have partnered with MedicAlert so they can quickly access vital information

Saajin Mann, 10, received his MedicAlert bracelet as the West Vancouver Police Department announced its partnership with the emergency service provider. (CBC News)

An elderly family member with Alzheimer's wanders off.

A child with autism is hours late from school and can't be found.

These are the kinds of situations Vancouver police departments are hoping to address more quickly and efficiently through a partnership with MedicAlert.

The emergency service provider is now connected with police departments in Abbotsford, Vancouver, and West Vancouver, which will allow for officers in those cities to access the MedicAlert database.

The only caveat is that the person needing help must be a subscriber of MedicAlert, or the database will not have any information about them.

If a person lost or in distress is a MedicAlert subscriber, the officer can use their bracelet ID number, name, address or phone number to bring up their photo, information about their disability, their history and how best to interact with them.

The MedicAlert bracelet now can provide information to police in Greater Vancouver about the wearer, including medical history and tendencies. (CBC News)

"Having the background information ...  where they're likely to be, will help us really respond much quicker," said West Vancouver police Chief Len Goerke.

For parents and family members of those with autism — the partnership can provide an added sense of security.

At least, that is what Kulvir Mann is hoping. Her 10-year-old son, Saajin, is on the spectrum and is non-verbal.

"I try to hold his hand, but he's getting older, so I want to give him a little freedom," she said.

Mann says now that police have access to Saajin's MedicAlert information, she can have some reassurance that he could be quickly found, if he were to get lost.

Police would also have a better idea of how to approach him, which is crucial according to Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, the co-founder of the Pacific Autism Family Network.

"There's such a range with autism being a spectrum. Whether the child or adult doesn't like to be touched or they just need space," she said. 

Goerke says this new partnership could also help officers to assist the many seniors in the community, especially those living with Alzheimer's or dementia.

"You have a senior with dementia who wanders and being able to get the picture of that senior into a police car much quicker [will help us]," he said.

So far, MedicAlert has partnered with police departments in 10 cities across Canada, but its president and CEO, Robert Ridge, says they plan on expanding it further.

The Pacific Autism Family Network is helping the MedicAlert Foundation in the expansion by co-sponsoring bracelets and the first year of a service plan for the next 100 subscribers.