FREEHOLD - First responders in Monmouth County will now have a new tool to better assist people with special needs during an emergency.
The county unveiled a special-needs registry this week. The voluntary registry will allow police and paramedics to better understand what types of situations may be going on when responding to a call.
Fran Hines say that he plans to sign his teenage son Colton up for the registry. Colton has autism.
“[The police] may recognize that maybe this isn't a kid who's high or under the influence of something. Maybe this is an autistic kid,” he says.
Hines says that Colton went missing twice when he was younger and wished that a registry was in place back then because it would have saved valuable time during the search.
Under the registry, 911 dispatchers will be able to see the person’s address and photo. It will also alert the dispatcher to any physical, mental or cognitive challenges that may be present. That information is then transmitted to police in the field.
“It may be just that one piece of information that the officer or firefighter needs so that we have a positive outcome with individuals with special needs and autism,” says Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden.
Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni also agrees that the registry will be helpful to make sure there aren’t any misunderstandings when responding to emergencies. Gramiccioni says that without the registry, an emergency could “result in a physical arrest or could escalate into something it didn't need to be."
Anyone wishing to sign up for the registry can do so online.