ELMHURST – July 6, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that will improve the safety and security of Illinois residents with cognitive-impairment, disabilities, and special needs. House Bill 1610 allows for the use of remotely-activated bracelet technology to contact emergency services during a missing persons incident.
“We need to make sure that our most vulnerable citizens can get help when they most need it,” said Governor Quinn. “This measure will greatly help caregivers and emergency personnel respond to someone who needs assistance and return them safely.”
Under current law, it is a Class A misdemeanor to install or connect an automatic alarm, automatic altering device, or mechanical dialer that contacts “911” to directly access emergency services. This bill establishes an exemption for bracelets which can be remotely activated to alert emergency response personnel of a person in need.
Bracelets allowed under the new law are activated upon alert from a missing person’s registered caregiver. Immediately upon activation, the device contacts emergency services and provides a message on behalf of its wearer. The call will then be handled as any other “911” calls involving a person in need of emergency assistance. The bill was sponsored by Representative Karen May (D-Highwood) and Senator John Millner (R-West Chicago).
“It is good public policy to use the latest technology to protect our most vulnerable citizens” said Rep. May. “I was pleased to author and pass this significant bill for public safety.”
The legislation was spurred by a 2007 incident where a seven-year-old child with Autism disappeared for several hours in Elmhurst. Like many children with autism, James often runs out of his parent’s sight. After a large search effort that included the village’s police, fire and public works departments, James was found at a grocery store more than two miles from his home.
The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.