Officials to talk about new tech helping people with autism, dementia stay safe.

For families concerned about the safety of relatives with autism, dementia or other “invisible” disabilities, the Roseville fire and police departments have technology and programs that can help avoid disasters.

“If someone gets confused and wanders away or gets lost, we just might save a life,” said David Brosnahan, Roseville assistant fire chief, describing one of the programs that within an hour actually did find a boy with autism who was lost in Reservoir Woods.

Those tools and safety tips will be the focus of a talk by city fire and police officials from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11, at the Roseville Library. The library is located at 2180 Hamline Ave. N.

The event is called “Living Safely at Home,” one of a series of Dementia Caring & Coping programs sponsored by the Roseville Area Alzheimer’s and Dementia Community Action Team (Roseville A/D) and the library.

With another program called Vitals, Roseville police in August became the second department in Minnesota to partner with a company that uses a new technology designed to create safer interactions between law enforcement and people with behavioral, mental health and developmental disorders.

The Vitals first responder computer app provides critical information instantly to a responding officer about a vulnerable person – perhaps the person’s medical condition, potential behavioral problems and even music or words that might help the officer diffuse a difficult or dangerous situation. Roseville has been training its 48 officers on how to use the program.

Project Lifesaver and SafetyNet are two technologies used by the fire department to find vulnerable people who wear wristband tracking devices that emit radio frequencies allowing them to be located. When someone in Roseville goes missing, for instance, a 911 call results in an alert to the nearest four fire vehicles with the technology in Roseville or nearby communities, and they start the search – usually finding the person in 15 to 25 minutes, Brosnahan said.

Fire officials also will talk about fire safety and preventing falls – a leading cause of injury and death among older people.

“It can be simple things – wearing the wrong shoes or slippers, for instance – that can put you at risk,” Brosnahan said. “Most of this is geared to individuals to help them stay safe, but it’s also good information for caregivers” who are helping older people who are frail or have memory problems.

Roseville A/D is a volunteer alliance representing community members, city staff and aging services professionals. It was formed in 2013 to provide educational and other programs supporting people with dementia and their families. For more information about the Caring & Coping Series and other dementia resources, go to


—Warren Wolfe retired from the Star Tribune, where he wrote about aging and health care issues. He is active with Roseville A/D.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here