The West Hartford Police Department recently promoted the CareCard identification program.
The CareCard contains information first responders can access if a person becomes incapacitated or goes missing.
Officer Dante Ursini, of the Community Relations Division, spoke about the program and took applications for the card at the senior center, on July 12.
The card helps locate a missing child who has autism, a person with Alzheimer's disease, or someone with known medical or mental health conditions.
Essential information is included on the card, such as name, birth date, address, medical condition, emergency contacts, and an updated photo. The program is available to everyone.
The card allows first responders easy access to critical information, he said. A driver's license often has an out-of-date photo, which can delay helping identify the person.
The CareCard application asked for the applicant's cell phone carrier, driver's license number, and if a person is hearing or visually impaired.
"It doesn't discriminate against any group, and there's no stigma attached," Ursini said.
The department developed the card, which could also aid persons with certain conditions if they travel outside the region.
If a cardholder goes missing, police can "ping" or send an electronic signal to the person's cell phone. The ping as a location finder. All the information is kept in a secured database.
Ursini asked for the most critical information be included on the card and application.
"If you're 50 years old, I don't want a picture when you're 25," he said.
Applicants receive the card in one to two weeks, depending on the number of applications submitted.
The police department sends two CareCards, one for the cardholder and the other for a caregiver or relative.
Ursini said families often call the police department about a family member with a mental health condition, or other conditions that might affect behavior. The families usually give police similar information now on the CareCard.
Police officers can bring up the information on their car computers, alerting them if a person has a certain condition. The department's dispatchers can also send the CareCard information to officers.
"It helps them better respond," he said.
Ursini reiterated the card is available to all West Hartford residents. A driver's license may have an old address or an outdated photo, he added.
"People change over time, or they get all done up for their license picture," he said. "We want something current we can use in the field."
Helene Moran, who signed up for CareCard, said she heard about Ursini's program through the senior center's newsletter. The center holds a monthly bagel breakfast, which features a guest speaker.
"This will be helpful for children," Moran said about the CareCard. "You never know when something happens, a child disappears. This would be great information to know."
For now, Moran only has her driver's license, which she deemed insufficient for first responders on scene.
"This card will be excellent," Moran said.
For information or sign up for the CareCard, email Ursini at email@example.com. West Hartford Police Department Headquarters is at 103 Raymond Road.