Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella Launches SafetyNet Tracking System Program
LEOMINSTER – Mayor Dean Mazzarella is on a mission to provide SafetyNet tracking systems to individuals, families and caregivers of the elderly, people with special needs, veterans with PTSD, people with autism and Alzheimer’s disease, and others who may benefit from the system that helps protect people and locate the lost.
“We will have as many as we need,” Mazzarella said, adding that the city was covering the costs. “We get it at the perfect time because SafetyNet is updating its equipment. “
SafetyNet launched a new model last spring, replacing a medallion-style tracking system that had received negative reactions in recent years because of its looks.
In addition to offering precision tracking technology through directional radio frequency, the sleek new black watch model also shows the time, provides battery life information and displays the frequency of the tracking device to it. -same.
“If a person is underground or in a large building or heavily forested or in hiding, GPS cannot locate them like radio frequency can,” said Ralph Poland, SafetyNet vice president of operations, an officer retired Marshfield Police Force.
Poland said that when a 911 call arrives, dispatchers can access the SafetyNet database and find the name and medical and other history of the lost or wandering person.
“They usually go where they worked or lived,” he said. “The guards need to know the frequency of the tracking system, but in panic mode, they may not remember it. They can press a button and it shows up on the device.
Poland demonstrated the SafetyNet system to the Leominster Fire Department on Wednesday, connecting an antenna to the tracking system.
“It is starting to eliminate the area around,” Poland said of the pings and sounds heard. He said the search area covered on the ground with a portable antenna is one mile – from a helicopter, such as a State Police helicopter, it is five to seven miles.
Mazzarella, along with firefighters and police, saw the ‘lost’ Leominster Fire Department Lt. Vincent Alia, who was wearing a SafetyNet watch, was located on the street within minutes, which was captured by a Leominster Access Television team.
“It saves lives,” Poland said. “We found people within minutes, children hiding in closets, people lost in the woods, people with autism who ran away or wandered around.”
Poland has published impressive statistics on the monitoring system. There have been over 960 search and rescue calls since SafetyNet launched in 2008 – everyone involved has been located and no one has died. He said the average search time is less than 30 minutes, and often closer to 15 or 20 minutes.
“If there is water nearby or in cold weather, we have to act quickly,” said Firefighter / EMT Rick Cormier, who is responsible for the information technology for the service.
Poland said SafetyNet has a presence in 26 states and has “full and comprehensive coverage” in Massachusetts and Connecticut with a series of state police and fire departments all connected by a hub. calls from Boston.
“This saves agencies thousands of dollars in search and rescue costs,” he said.
He told several success stories of the tracking system helping locate lost people, including a disoriented World War II veteran who was hiding from the Germans behind a heating system in a basement, and an aged couple of Plymouth who stuck his car two miles deep in the woods and disappeared for hours.
“When someone finally called 911 to report their disappearance, the state police helicopter picked up the signal within 15 minutes,” Poland said of the couple.
Mazzarella said residents got lost in the state forest overnight and people with autism fleeing or wandering group homes, and the tracking system will help locate people in situations like this.
“It always seems to be when the sun goes down,” he said.
SafetyNet provides first responders and assisted living staff with training and understanding of cognitive conditions, empowering them to respond to a runaway, and to effectively assess and manage the safe and comfortable return of a fleeing client.
“Each of our members has been trained,” said Deputy Fire Department Chief Craig Long, “so no matter who is on duty, they know how to use the system.”
Poland said SafetyNet can and has been used for reverse backups, when a first responder or someone else encounters an unresponsive person and connects them to the SafetyNet database which provides their information, including including his medical history, at the push of a button. Additionally, SafetyNet is working on updating the tracking system with a blue tooth mechanism, which would trigger a notification if someone walked through a door connected to the system.
“They could use the blue tooth in assisted living facilities,” Cormier said.
Fire Chief Robert Sideleau said the tracking system would help them locate lost or wandering people faster, and when it comes to emergencies, minutes count.
“Leominster is big in the area,” he said.
Sideleau wants to remind people to call 911 as soon as possible if something is wrong or if someone is in danger or missing.
“That’s what we’re here for, it’s our job,” he said. “You should call 911 immediately when you know someone is missing. “
Mazzarella and Long echoed these sentiments.
“Calling right away is the key,” Long said.
Mazzarella added, “We tend to wait too long as parents and caregivers to make that phone call. People think they are bothering the firefighters.
The cost for a SafetyNet system is $ 150 up front, then $ 25 per month, but those who get one from the city won’t have to pay a dime. Poland estimates the cost of the 10 units the city initially bought for distribution to be around $ 4,000, which Mazzarella said the city is paying.
“We have money that we can use for this,” he said.
“I have to give it to the mayor for coming up with this program,” Poland said. “The requirements are that someone has to have 24/7 care, no access to a vehicle, and if they use public transport, someone will accompany them.”
Mazzarella said they were happy to help provide the tracking system to those who can benefit from it, providing peace of mind for families and caregivers, especially those dealing with vagrants.
“We will have as many as we need,” he said. “It’s important to us as a community. We want people to come out and not be locked in their homes out of fear. “
To request a SafetyNet Tracker, call the Leominster Fire Department at 978-534-7542 and ask for Rick Cormier, or complete an application at the Mayor’s Office at Town Hall. For more information visit https://safetynettracking.com.