Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $149,873)
BJA FY 21 The Kevin and Avonte Program: Reducing Injury and Death of Missing Individuals with Dementia and Developmental Disabilities
Searches for individuals with forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s and developmental disabilities such as autism are for most agencies, low frequency yet high-risk events. The State of New Jersey has seen dramatic increases in its populations of individuals suffering from dementia and autism with a corresponding increase in requests for assistance for individuals who have eloped.
Local, county and state agencies that are confronted with such an emergency, lack critical training and the operational experience to provide an adequate response. Furthermore, these agencies often only reach out for assistance after the incident has grown to a level of complexity that they can no longer manage. This further jeopardizes the safety of the subject, prolongs family grief, and puts responders at increasing levels of risk. Therefore, initiating a well-developed search plan immediately upon receiving a search notification for these individuals, is critical to preventing injury and reducing fatalities.
The New Jersey State Police Urban Search and Rescue Unit, Missing Persons Unit, State Search and Rescue Coordinator and the Missing in New Jersey Association, in partnership, proposes to deliver a series of internally developed programming and support materials, specific to the realities of local response as well as nationally recognized training programs, developed by the National Association for Search and Rescue, Project Lifesaver and Parents of Autistic Children to our local, county and state partners. These programs will cover investigation, subject and responder safety, the duties of an Incident Commander, initial investigative and search tactics, use of electronic investigative and reporting tools, the locations and capabilities of local county and state resources available to assist, and the practical applications of lost person behavior specific to the dementia and autism categories in both lecture and hands-on tabletop sessions based on actual in-state missions. We will also develop and implement a geo-spatially based reporting system as part of this program to document locations of trained resources, response trends, and to refine lost person behavior modeling for future responses.
The implementation of this model facilitates the rescue and recovery of individuals who wander from safe environments and will directly decrease the risk of injury or death to at-risk individuals suffering from forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease or developmental disabilities such as autism.