911 Commission learns signage is needed for special needs adults

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First responders can adapt emergency actions

By Juanice Gray, Editor

The 911 Commission learned at their regular meeting that move in day is quickly approaching. The sheriff’s and police department’s emergency operators should be relocated into the new NATCOM facility any time. Director Willis Carter said he wanted to assure the public that every effort has been made to ensure the 911 system transfers seamlessly and there is no lapse in service.

The Commission also heard from Debra Dees, external auditor, who stated they had a clean audit. “You experienced an increase in assets,” she said stating it was due in part to the completion of the facility. She said their expenses decreased and they were within their budget. The Commission approved the Natchitoches Times as their official journal and voted for a 2 percent cost of living pay increase for secretary Bernice Wallace.

After the business portion of the meeting, guest Lela Harvey with the local autism support group asked if there was a system in place to register autistic people and others with seizures or sensitivities with emergency services. At this time there is not. Harvey cited adults with autism who may negatively respond to sirens and lights on emergency vehicles. “We don’t want a scared autistic patient in need to be looked at as aggressive,” she said. “Responders should know the situation they are walking into.”

Commissioner Larry Atteridge agreed. “Everyone’s safety should come first. There are instances where there should be a silent approach, with no lights and sirens, that might agitate or cause seizures.”

Harvey said she made a sign for her front yard and some for the windows of her home announcing an adult with autism resides there. The state does not offer signage for homes with special needs residents, however a number of private companies offer customizable signs. RapidSOS is another service that provides life-saving multimedia, health profile and real-time incident data from connected devices directly to 9-1-1 and first responders.