London police announce partnership with MedicAlert

Deputy Chief Stuart Betts (left), Deb Weber (middle), and Catherine Horlock, the Director of Strategic Alliances and Member Experience with MedicAlert. Kelly Wang / Global News

The London Police Service announced on Wednesday that it is partnering with MedicAlert Foundation Canada to help officers “quickly identify or locate lost or missing vulnerable individuals” in emergencies.

Police say they are the latest to join a growing number of policing agencies partnering with the foundation, which has “already proven effective” in helping people living with autism, Alzheimer’s dementia, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, mental health issues, and cognitive brain injuries.

“This is going to give our officers access to valuable information when time is of the essence,” said deputy chief Stuart Betts.

London police announce partnership with MedicAlert Foundation Canada on August 7, 2019.
London police announce partnership with MedicAlert Foundation Canada on August 7, 2019. Kelly Wang/980 CFPL

The partnership with the foundation will bring the MedicAlert Connect Protect service to London to give police access to a subscriber’s emergency profile, which provides information including a recent photo, physical description, information on “wandering history” and behaviour management information like anxiety triggers.

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Deb Weber attended the police media conference to express her gratitude towards this partnership.

She understands the struggles of caring for someone with a cognitive disorder. Her husband, Bruce, was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago, and is now a client of MedicAlert.

Deb Weber holding a photo of her husband Bruce, who has dementia. Bruce has been a client of MedicAlert for the past few years. Kelly Wang / Global News

Weber says when she first learned about her husband’s diagnosis, she experienced “a mixed emotion. The first one was ‘okay, I’m not crazy, something was truly the matter.’ The other one was ‘now what?'”

She tells 980 CFPL that her husband was once brought home by a police officer because he didn’t know his name or birthday. She quickly signed him up for MedicAlert soon after.

Today, Weber feels less anxious knowing Bruce’s information is with him wherever he goes.

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“Police will know what Bruce looks like, that he can’t speak, how to approach him… it’s just one more kudo for us.”

Deputy chief Stuart Betts says police officers are also feeling excited for this change.

Betts tells 980 CFPL that the public may not recognize how often police are faced with cases of an individual with a cognitive disorder reported missing.

Last year, London police dealt with 1,400 missing persons cases. Betts estimates that roughly 200 of those meet the criteria that would be served by the MedicAlert program.

Betts say local police have yet to use MedicAlert to track a missing person as the partnership has only just begun. He says he hopes police will “never need to access it, sadly we know that we [eventually] will. Just having it available to us is definitely a positive [tool] for police.”
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Catherine Horlock, director of strategic alliances and member experience with MedicAlert, says this partnership benefits not just the police, but also the public.

Horlock poses with the MedicAlert banner. MedicAlert and London police are now partners. Kelly Wang / Global News
Prior to MedicAlert’s introduction, police would be required to “collect all that information [regarding a missing person] from a family member before they start their search. Part of what MedicAlert can provide is all that information upfront, so [police] can hit the ground sooner,” says Horlock.

Françoise Faverjon-Fortin, CEO of MedicAlert Foundation Canada says the team is honoured to assist police services across the country, and that its services act as “a vital link between first responders and the community when faster, informed action makes all the difference.”

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MedicAlert is holding a registration session until 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Community Room at London Police Headquarters at 601 Dundas St., near Adelaide Street.

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