Edmonton is the first city in Alberta to adopt a new program from MedicAlert to help vulnerable people living with conditions such as autism, alzheimer’s, dementia or a cognitive brain injury.
On Saturday, an event was held at Children’s Autism Services Edmonton, in partnership with the Edmonton Police Service, to sign kids up for the program, including four-year-old Kai Macpherson, who has autism and is non-verbal.
“In the past, if a police officer was to come in contact with Kai, it would take us hours and a long time to figure out who Kai was, where he needed to go, what kind of history he has,” Const. Bruce McGregor said.
In October, McGregor and another officer identified a need for the program.
“Now when we meet Kai, we’ll recognize that he has that bracelet on his wrist and that will help us, with that ID number on the back, to get in contact with MedicAlert.”
Within about five seconds, a first responder can get access to a child’s detailed health records.
Kai’s dad, Ian Macpherson, said it will help him feel more prepared for those worst-case scenarios.
“It’s the kind of thing that you really hope you never really need to use,” Macpherson said.
MedicAlert has been around for more than 55 years in Canada, focusing on alerting first responders to allergies and medical conditions.
So far ten cities in Canada have adopted the new expanded program, including five in Ontario, three in B.C., and one in Manitoba.
“Lots of times the vulnerable persons population struggle to communicate and struggle to provide us with information,” McGregor said.
“We want to better educate ourselves and have a better understanding of who we’re working with and who we’re dealing with, in order to help them in the best possible way.”
On Saturday, about 25 families had signed up for the program.
“Some of our kids run away and sometimes they get lost. Some of our kids are non-verbal. Some kids are very anxious and have sensory issues,” Terri Duncan, executive director of Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton, said.
“If the emergency responders don’t know that, they can actually make things worse.”
The Oil Kings are hosting Autism Awareness Night on Sunday and a MedicAlert booth will be on hand to register kids.