Sunday Signal

Special Needs Registry, Emergency Locating System ensure residents’ safety

The City of Santa Clarita is always working to improve the lives of our residents, and ensuring public safety is a top priority for the City Council and the mission of our Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

We are constantly looking for innovative ways to enhance safety measures. This can be seen in the recent installation of an Emergency Locating System along our City trail system.

A total of 658 markers have been posted to provide a quick and easy way to convey a location during an emergency situation. Each marker displays a specific number, which designates its location. These numbers correspond to a GIS map.

When a hiker or cyclist provides an emergency operator with the designated number, the operator will be able to pinpoint the location and know where to dispatch emergency personnel, allowing for a quicker response.

Another program that helps save valuable time during emergencies is our Special Needs Registry.

The registry was launched in 2014 and is a free safety tool for residents maintained by the City of Santa Clarita, the Community and Law Enforcement Aware Response (CLEAR) initiative and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. It is a database where caretakers and loved ones can submit information on community members who have autism, Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome, epilepsy or bipolar disorder.

These conditions can result in significant impairments affecting an individual’s ability to communicate and interact socially. These individuals also have a higher risk of wandering off.

The Special Needs Registry provides sheriff’s deputies with essential information in advance of an emergency. During a critical rescue search, seconds count. Santa Clarita’s Special Needs Registry streamlines the search process by helping public safety personnel mobilize and save precious time.

The tool allows guardians to upload vital information to the registry, including the family member’s name, photograph, address, emergency contact, medical diagnosis and suggestions on how to approach the individual, which can help a sheriff’s deputy during a search. When a resident registers a loved one, they will receive two laminated registry identification cards at no charge – one for the caretaker and one for the registered person. These cards include important information such as behavioral descriptions and emergency contacts.

On average, the Special Needs Registry saves sheriff’s deputies 3 hours of internal administrative work typically required to obtain a photo from the family, gather the information and then distribute it to search units. Having this information readily available alleviates the challenge of coordinating with individuals while they are dealing with the stress of a missing family member.

The City of Santa Clarita is one of the first cities to design a program like the Special Needs Registry. In 2016, the registry was recognized by the League of California Cities with a prestigious 2016 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence in Public Safety. To find out more information or to register a loved one, please visit santa-clarita.com/SNR.

Ken Striplin can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in his column are those of the city and do not necessarily reflect those of The Signal.

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