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Angels In Our Midst

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Angels in our Midst (Take me Home)

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 01:43 PM CDT
A Pensacola Police Officer was invited to one of the first meetings of the Autism Pensacola Group.
After the parents' tough questions, he left on a mission of an angel in our midst. 

Susan;  "Our young people may not understand dangers and want to just take off and be curious and learn about things.  But, unfortunately, that puts them in danger."

The parents at that meeting, had lots of questions for Pensacola Police Officer Jimmy Donohoe.

Sgt Jimmy Donohoe, Pensacola Police Department;  "What are you going to do with my child if you find him because he can't speak to you?"

Susan;  "May have some odd behaviors because of their autism, especially if they become stressed or upset.  And those behaviors are easily misinterpreted by the public."

Sgt Donohoe had the pat answers; like tracking bracelets and even ID shoe laces.  But, those things don't always work for children with autism.

Sgt Donohoe;  "I left that meeting that evening feeling very inadequate as a law enforcement officer for what we would actually do if we came upon that scenario."

That could have been the end of this story.  But it was just the beginning.  Sgt. Donohoe got with a friend at a computer software company and developed the "Take me Home" program.

Susan;  "Then that is accessible by all of the law enforcement who use the system in this area."
Parents or caregivers sign up for the program for free.  It allows the officer to call up a person by name, if they can give that; nickname if that's all they know, or by physical description if a person can't talk. 

Susan;  "It is just a great tool to help parents know that there is another way to care for their children with autism in an emergency situation."

The registration is open to anyone who had a loved one who may wander.  He didn't recall it at the time because it had happened so many years ago, but weeks into developing the program, Sgt. Donohoe realized this program could have helped with his own son.

Sgt Donohoe;  "He's non-verbal.  He walked out in the middle of Michigan Avenue one day and was eventually given to the Sheriff's Department who eventually gave him to DCF.  Five hours later, I got to see my son again."

"Take me home" software is provided at no charge to any law enforcement agency in the world.  Right now, almost 300 use it and have "Happy Ending Stories" everyday.  Sgt. Donohoe was patrolling recently when an elderly man was found.

Sgt Donohoe;  "I said, by chance, let's look in here and sure enough, he was there.  He was a block away from home but he had no clue how to get home.  He was an Alzheimer's patient.  So, we put him in the car and drove him to the house, and took him home."

Angels in our Midst is brought to you by Sacred Heart Children's Hospital.
Angels in our Midst (Take me Home)


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